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Dish plays national security card against Softbank

Pay-TV provider petitions FCC to delay any ruling until Sprint has decided between its two suitors


Published: 22 April, 2013

READ MORE: M&A | US | Regulator

Dish Network is playing the national interest card in its bid to win supporters to its bid for Sprint, where it could have to face a bidding war with Japan's Softbank.

Dish has made a surprise offer of $25.5bn for the US's third cellco, countering Softbank's offer for a 70% stake. While the Japanese contender would bring Sprint significant expertise and some strong plans for the Clearwire venture's TDD spectrum, Dish would contribute - as well as much needed cash to accelerate 4G roll-outs - the potential for TV and quad play services to enable Sprint to compete more effectively with Verizon and AT&T.

Dish is boosting its armory by filing a submission with the FCC, claiming the Softbank option would be a bad move for US national security. It requested that the FCC suspend the review of Softbank's offer for a majority stake in Sprint, claiming the Japanese firm lacked the "existing in-market infrastructure" and that its own proposal would be "better for American consumers, better for Sprint shareholders, and better for national security than the Softbank proposal."

Dish is echoing concerns enshrined in previous filings, including one from the Justice Department in January. According to Reuters, the department asked the FCC to postpone any clearing of the Softbank/Sprint deal, saying that it and other agencies needed more time to review the deal's implications, including national interest and security concerns.

Sprint's board of advisors is considering Dish's proposal even though the carrier had previously agreed to Softbank's $20.1bn deal. Dish wants the FCC to delay any ruling on the merger until Sprint has made its decision between its two suitors.

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