Dish tops rival Sprint's bid for Clearwire

Thu May 30, 2013 12:11am EDT

The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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(Reuters) - Dish Network Corp raised its buyout offer for Clearwire Corp to $4.40 per share, valuing the wireless service provider at $6.5 billion and topping a rival bid by Sprint Nextel Corp by nearly 30 percent.

Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider, already owns just over 50 percent of Clearwire's shares and had increased its offer to $3.40 per share last week under pressure from activist shareholders.

Dish, which is also locked in a battle with Japan's SoftBank Corp to acquire Sprint, raised its bid just two days before the Sprint offer goes to a vote.

"The Clearwire spectrum portfolio has always been a key component to implementing our wireless plans of delivering a superior product and service offering to customers," Charlie Ergen, Dish chairman and co-founder of Dish, said in a statement.

Dish's offer values Clearwire at $6.47 billion, according to its shares outstanding as of May 29.

Clearwire shares were trading up 23 percent at $4.23 after-hours on Wednesday after closing at $3.43. Sprint was up less than one percent, and Dish stock fell 2 percent to $39.25 in after-hours trade.

A spokesperson for Clearwire said the company's special committee would review Dish's revised bid, and had not made any determination to change its recommendation of the current Sprint transaction.

A SoftBank spokesman was not immediately available to comment, while a Sprint spokesman declined comment.

(Reporting by Garima Goel in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Bangalore and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Richard Pullin)

(This story was refiled to remove the repeated word "bid" from the first paragraph)

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