* SoftBank grants waiver for Sprint to question Dish
* Waiver does not permit deal negotiations
* SoftBank says still expects deal with Sprint to go forward
By Liana B. Baker and Ben Berkowitz
April 29 Sprint Nextel Corp on Monday said
its merger partner, SoftBank Corp, has waived some
terms of their agreement so that Sprint can seek more
information from rival suitor Dish Network Corp.
The exchange of information between Sprint and Dish
indicates the companies are in conversations about the satellite
broadcaster's $25.5 billion takeover bid, even if Sprint for now
is standing by its $20.1 billion pact with SoftBank.
Dish said it had received a Sprint request for more
information about the bid, and a non-disclosure agreement that
would keep such information private.
Dish said it had already given some information to Sprint in
response to requests from a Sprint special committee.
SoftBank said the waiver it granted does not allow Sprint to
disclose nonpublic information or negotiate with Dish.
But Dish said it looks "forward to being able to conduct
confirmatory due diligence as soon as possible" with Sprint.
Dish shocked markets two weeks ago with its cash and stock
offer for Sprint, which it claimed was superior to the deal
SoftBank and Sprint struck last October. Sprint
said it had formed a special board committee and hired advisers
to consider the Dish bid. But it also said it was still on track
to close its deal with SoftBank by July 1.
SoftBank, in a statement, said it had issued the waiver at
the request of Sprint's special committee and reiterated its
intent to proceed with the deal.
"SoftBank remains highly confident that its fully executed
merger agreement with Sprint, under which it has already
provided Sprint with $3.1 billion of capital, provides the
shareholders of Sprint significantly more value than the highly
leveraged approach made by Dish on April 15th," it said.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement that Dish
was "confident that the Sprint Board will share our view that
this proposal is superior by offering Sprint shareholders
greater value with a higher price and more cash."
Dish shares were up 0.8 percent at $40.32 in afternoon
trading, while Sprint shares were off 1 cent at $7.11.