Sprint hikes bid for Clearwire to counter Dish's offer

Sprint is now offering $3.40 per share to buy out the half of Clearwire it doesn't already own

Sprint Nextel has increased its offer to buy out Clearwire, bidding US$3.40 per share, to counter a competing offer by Dish Network.

The new bid marks a significant boost from its earlier offer of $2.97 per share and beats Dish's $3.30 bid. Clearwire shareholders had been scheduled to vote on Sprint's offer at a special meeting Tuesday, but that meeting has now been postponed until May 30.

Sprint already owns roughly half of Clearwire, which has been its partner for 4G WiMax service since 2008. After Softbank agreed to invest $20 billion in Sprint and take a 70 percent share in the company, Sprint moved to complete its ownership. It plans to use Clearwire's spectrum to beef up its new LTE network.

But Dish, a satellite TV and broadband provider, has made offers for both Sprint and Clearwire in an attempt to get into the relatively fast-growing mobile business. On Monday, Sprint announced it had received permission from Softbank to negotiate with Dish on its $25.5 billion offer, though Sprint said it still favored the Softbank deal.

Clearwire's board of directors agreed to Sprint's offer in December, but some minority shareholders in Clearwire had vowed to reject the deal, saying it undervalued the company and its significant spectrum holdings. Sprint had already increased its offer once, in December, from $2.90 per share to $2.97.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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