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SoftBank Strong-Arms Potential DISH Lenders

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SoftBank recently laid out point-by-point why it thought its bid for Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) was superior to the bid from DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH  ) . For value, timing, leverage, structure, financing, and mobile expertise, according to SoftBank, it held the advantage.

Now, SoftBank is trying to ensure that DISH definitely has problems getting financial help from investment banks. According to the Financial Times, which cited two people in the know, SoftBank is threatening the chances of any DISH lender to get a piece of the Alibaba IPO anticipated by the beginning of 2014.

SoftBank holds one-third of Alibaba, the Chinese Internet commerce company, and its public offering is valued at $60 billion to $80 billion, according to FT. Reuters has reported that one Wall Street bank has already pulled out from a lending deal for DISH because it didn't want to upset any chance of a role in the Alibaba IPO.

DISH has been trying to get into the wireless communications business and has been accumulating spectrum licenses from bankrupt satellite companies. Late last year, it made a counteroffer to Sprint's bid to buy Clearwire (UNKNOWN: CLWR.DL  ) .

It seems that the DISH offer was intended to gain enough control of Clearwire to thwart Sprint's buyout attempt, and then to remove the reason for SoftBank's interest in Clearwire -- its large spectrum cache.

Late last week, DISH held a conference call for industry analysts and journalists to answer questions about its proposed transaction. Chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen said one big advantage Sprint would get from selling to DISH would be its spectrum.

"SoftBank, on the other hand, only has cash, right. And if they bring cash to the United States, they don't really enhance anybody, because ultimately, spectrum is what you need," he said. "So AT&T with more cash doesn't mean anything. AT&T with more spectrum is formidable."

But cash is still important, and Charlie and company will still need to borrow $9 billion from somewhere to buy Sprint.

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12/31/1969 7:00 PM
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