TheDeal: Softbank Increases Sprint Nextel Offer

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Japan's Softbank on Tuesday increased its agreed bid for Sprint Nextel (S) to $21.6 billion, offering $1.5 billion more as it attempts to ward off a competing, unsolicited approach from Dish Network (DISH).

Softbank said it would now offer the target's shareholders $7.65 per share, up from a previous $7.30 bid. In total, Sprint shareholders would receive $16.6 billion in cash.

Softbank said it is now targeting 78% of Sprint, up from a previous 70%. However, Sprint itself would only get a $5 billion injection under the new terms, down from a previously planned $8 billion infusion, to shore up its balance sheet.

The Japanese suitor said the sweetened deal was in direct response to a competing $25.5 billion offer from Dish Network. However, Sprint's board and a committee established to consider approaches -- including Dish's -- threw their weight behind Softbank.

"As a consequence of the lack of progress with Dish and the improved terms from Softbank, the special committee ended its discussions with Dish," Sprint said late Monday.

Sprint, of Overland Park, Kan., has postponed a vote on the Softbank deal to June 25 from June 12 and increased the breakup fee on the Softbank approach to $800 million from $600 million.

Dish, of Englewood, Col., quickly shot off its own missive: "We continue to believe that Sprint has tremendous value. We will analyze the revised Softbank bid as we consider our strategic options."

Softbank opened the bidding war for Sprint with a $20.1 billion offer in October. The Japanese mobile company run by Masayoshi Son hopes the deal will allow it to expand into the U.S. market. Sprint said the offer represents a 52% premium to the stock's share price before the first offer was unveiled.



Meanwhile, Charlie Ergen's Dish hopes to break into mobile telecommunications as the line between mobile, broadband and entertainment blurs. Acquiring Sprint would offer him more customers to peddle content to and new products to offer existing Dish clients.

-- Written by Andrew Bulkeley in New York.

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