As the battle between DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH), SoftBank, and Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) continues to generate controversy, an important date approaches for investors in all three companies. On May 21, Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) shareholders vote on approving Sprint’s acquisition offer. The deal has received a large amount of criticism for undervaluing Clearwire shares, and also comes in conflict with DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH)’s offer. Adding more confusion, DISH also has an outstanding offer for Sprint, in which it would then extend Sprint’s offer to Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) shareholders. If it sounds like a mess, that’s because it is. Here’s what investors need to know over the next three weeks.
There doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut solution to what’s going on among the companies involved. Sprint is the majority owner of Clearwire — a beleaguered telecom with very valuable spectrum assets. Clearwire uses Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) financing to keep its business upright while it tries to get back on its feet.
Sprint has an outstanding offer of $2.97 per share for the remainder of Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR). Crest Financial, a 5% owner of Clearwire, is suing, and has asked the FCC to block the deal because it believes it undervalues shares, especially in light of the fact that DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH) has offered $3.30 per share for Clearwire, as well. As of the latest update from Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR)’s board members, the company’s management remains behind Sprint as the suitor of choice. The former has tapped an additional $80 million in financing from Sprint as part of an overall $800 million financing.
DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH) has another offer on the table — for Sprint. The company has offered $25.5 billion for Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), which would create a juggernaut of a telecom with nearly unmatched ability to offer a full package of media and telecom services. It would also create an Everest of debt — a frightening scenario for shareholders. The deal comes in direct conflict with Softbank’s outstanding bid for Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) in the amount of $20.1 billion. Softbank gave permission to Sprint to form a special committee to take into consideration DISH’s offer.
Clearly, there’s a lot going on here. The winner? So far, a mix of law firms and investment banks. But what happens on May 21?
As noted in The Wall Street Journal, Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) doesn’t need much to win approval for the acquisition. Sprint already has the consent of 13% of Clearwire’s outstanding shares. The remaining 37% that’s not already owned or controlled by Sprint, is the crucial voting body, of which only 12% is required to vote in favor of the deal for it to go through.