This is the telecom drama that never ends... except the end really does seem to be in sight now.
Just one week ago, it seemed nearly certain that the four-way bidding war over wireless network operators Clearwire (UNKNOWN: CLWR.DL ) and Sprint (NYSE: S ) would end up with a split pot. Sprint's board had approved an updated offer from Japanese telecom SoftBank while Clearwire recommended shareholders accepting a raised bid from satellite broadcasting veteran DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH ) .
Blink and you'd miss it: DISH missed a deadline to raise its Sprint offer and then officially dropped out of the Sprint battle altogether, leaving SoftBank's win down to mere formalities such as a successful approval vote among Sprint shareholders. But Sprint then turned around and raised its own bid for Clearwire to 47% above Sprint's previous bid, or 14% beyond DISH's best offer -- and immediately gained the support of Clearwire's board of directors. Money talks, you know.
So now we're looking at a brand new slam-dunk outcome. SoftBank gets to bag both of the American assets it wanted while DISH must seek its wireless fortunes elsewhere. SoftBank had a "Plan B" in place, in case the Sprint deal didn't work out. Maybe that's something DISH would consider now?
In the video below, Fool contributor Anders Bylund reviews the action so far and the implications for investors across the North American telecom market. Things are about to get real interesting around here.
Five enter, one leaves
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