Newly merged wireless giant Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has been a busy beaver of late. The new company has hit the ground running to keep pace with competitors such as Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Cingular, a joint venture between Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick SBC (NYSE:SBC) and BellSouth (NYSE:BLS), in the fiercely competitive cell phone service market. For instance, in the midst of juggling all its share exchanges, debt consolidation, and dividend adjustments, the company found time to ink a huge deal with the NFL for exclusive content.

But the new megacarrier's most important recent achievement is its mitigation of legal disputes. Several of Sprint's affiliate partners had filed suit against the company in an attempt to block the merger. That plan obviously failed, but the legal argument remains -- the Sprint/Nextel combination allegedly violates many of the affiliate agreements that Sprint signed to uphold.

Yesterday, Sprint Nextel announced that it has resolved disputes with twomore affiliates by buying them out. The company will shell out a total of about $714 million in cash and assumed debt to acquire both IWO Holdings and Gulf Coast Wireless. Earlier this year, Sprint paid $1.3 billion to acquire U.S. Unwired, resolving another lawsuit. It's not buying every affiliate, though; in some cases, it's renegotiating agreements to keep both parties from competing for customers.

When the merger was still up in the air, the U.S. Unwired deal had other affiliates scrambling to file suits in hopes of a lucrative buyout offer. Those efforts lost considerable leverage when regulators approved Sprint and Nextel's union.

These latest two deals also set an important benchmark -- Sprint Nextel's standard for what value "the market" places on affiliate companies. This is very important, because the biggest current thorn in Sprint Nextel's side is Nextel Partners (NASDAQ:NXTP) -- not surprisingly, a partner of Nextel -- which wants a buyout at a premium for its shareholders. Sprint Nextel pointed out that the going rate for these affiliates falls roughly between nine and 11 times EBITDA. The company seems to be implying that the real value of Nextel Partners' business is far less than even its current $7 billion market cap. At today's share price alone, buying out Nextel Partners would represent nearly 15 times EBITDA.

Clearly, Sprint Nextel isn't about to shell out cash willy nilly. Given the company's deft moves in the mergers-and-acquisition arena, affiliate shareholders counting on a premium buyout will likely be disappointed.

We've acquired related Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Dave Mock values grape-flavored Otter Pops far above what most people would pay. The orange flavor, however, deserves no premium. He owns no shares of companies mentioned in this article.