Were courts to rule in favor of Dish's $4.40 a share proposal, Clearwire's share price could continue to rise, undermining Sprint's finances in a takeover. Were Dish to win a minority stake, it might challenge Sprint's ability to redeploy Clearwire's valuable spectrum in its multi-billion dollar "Network Vision" service upgrade.

Dish's retreat as an insurgent in SoftBank's efforts to takeover Sprint, meanwhile doesn't signal an end to the company's efforts to enter the wireless market.

"We will consider our options with respect to Sprint, and focus our efforts and resources on completing the Clearwire tender offer," the company said in a Tuesday statement.

Even after Sprint, Dish and Clearwire resolve await a final judgment in a Delaware court, Charlie Ergen will have many options to steer Dish into the wireless market. Those include an acquisition of T-Mobile, network access agreements with carriers such as Sprint and spectrum sales to telecoms as large as AT&T, according to industry analysts.

Sprint shares were falling over 3% to $7.07 in Wednesday afternoon trading on Dish's withdrawal from the company's merger efforts.

Dish shares were gaining nearly 3% to $40.22. Clearwire shares gained 1 cent to $4.57, well above Sprint and Dish's proposed offers.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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