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Sprint counteroffer to make no difference: SoftBank

17 april 2013, 10:01
Japan's SoftBank said Tuesday it still expects its bid to acquire Sprint Nextel will succeed on schedule in July, despite a higher counter-offer from a US firm, AFP reports.

American satellite-television provider DISH Network on Monday launched an unsolicited $25.5 billion bid that trumped SoftBank's October offer to buy 70 percent of Sprint for $20 billion.

"SoftBank believes that the agreed terms of our transaction with Sprint offer Sprint shareholders superior short and long-term benefits to DISH's highly conditional preliminary proposal," the Japanese firm said in a statement.

"The SoftBank-Sprint transaction is in the advanced stages of receiving the necessary approvals and we expect to consummate the transaction on July 1, 2013, with the terms already agreed."

DISH said it was offering to buy Sprint, the third-largest US wireless carrier, for $17.3 billion in cash and $8.2 billion in stock, trying to derail SoftBank's attempt to acquire the US firm.

News of the counter offer sent shares in mobile operator SoftBank down 6.83 percent to close the day in Tokyo at 4,365 yen.

If it were to up its bid to match or beat DISH's offer, SoftBank's attempt to get itself a chunk of the US market could prove considerably more expensive because the value of the yen has plunged in recent months.

When it announced the takeover plan in October, the dollar stood at around 78 yen, making the $20 billion purchase equivalent to 1.57 trillion yen.

Dow Jones Newswires reported the buyout was fully hedged at 82 yen to the dollar, so its rise over the past few months -- it stood at around 97 yen to the dollar on Tuesday afternoon -- would not affect the original bid.

However, if Softbank were to raise its offer, the yen cost of the extra dollars would be considerably higher.

The purchase by SoftBank, if it goes through, would mark the biggest overseas acquisition by a Japanese firm.

It still needs a green light from US regulators looking at possible national security conflicts.

DISH Network chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement that its proposal "clearly presents Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending Softbank proposal".

"Sprint shareholders will benefit from a higher price with more cash while also creating the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in a combined DISH/Sprint with a significantly enhanced strategic position and substantial synergies that are not attainable through the pending Softbank proposal."

In an email to AFP, Sprint said the unsolicited DISH bid would be evaluated by its board of directors.

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