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DISH Network Corp. (DISH) Set to Win Clearwire Corporation (CLWR) Battle

In the latest chapter of 2013’s biggest M&A drama, it looks like DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) may now be the favored suitor for spectrum-rich Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR), while Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) may no longer be the target of choice for Japanese bank SoftBank. The news comes as a surprise to many, as Clearwire’s board had long lent its support to Sprint as the appropriate buyer for the company, despite multiple increases in DISH’s offer. As the final iteration of this buyout saga begins to take shape, here’s what you need to know to make the right investment.


Let’s get this straight, one more time
As of this week, the special committee that Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) formed to investigate strategic alternatives officially switched tunes, and sided with DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH)’s $4.40 per share tender offer.

This comes in the face of last week’s noise from Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) that alleged that DISH Network could not legally buy Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR), for a variety of reasons. DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) chairman Charlie Ergen responded quickly with a thorough explanation as to why those allegations were simply not true.

Though it isn’t official until the papers are signed, it’s looking a lot like DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) will end up as the victor, unless Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) swoops in with a last second show stealer. For DISH investors, this is a big win, as the company has relentlessly been working toward leveraging its multi-billion dollar broadband network effort. Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR)’s assets give the satellite TV provider a big step forward in its quest.

On the other side of the game
Though Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) may not get its way with Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR), the company continues to shop itself to the highest bidder. And, of course, DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) has an outstanding bid for Sprint, as well, though this one does not look nearly as likely to occur (and perhaps was used as negotiating leverage to begin with). Shareholder watchdog firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, in addition to Sprint’s board, have officially gotten behind SoftBank as the best option for shareholder value. DISH’s offer, though higher on a per-share basis, has been criticized as not creating ideal synergies and, perhaps, hurting shareholders in the long run.

The real nail in the coffin for a Sprint-DISH deal, in my opinion, was Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S)’s demand that DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) pay a $3 billion termination fee in the event that the merger is blocked (via regulators). DISH had agreed to $1 billion, but was not willing to go over — wisely.