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What: Shares of Clearwire (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) were on fire today, climbing up as much as 31% after DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH) raised its bid for the 4G network provider from $3.30 to $4.40 a share, topping Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) bid by $1.
So what: Sprint already owns a 50% stake in Clearwire, whose chunk of 140 megahertz spectrum makes it a valuable asset for broadband users such as Sprint and DISH. Clearwire shareholders were supposed to meet tomorrow to discuss Sprint's offer, but that meeting will probably be postponed, considering the DISH proposal. Crest Financial, Clearwire's largest minority shareholder, had argued against the Sprint offer, saying the company should hold out for a better offer and open itself up to competitive bidding.
Now what: Perhaps the best question about today's actions is why the stock opened so far below the bid and didn't go higher than $4.56. DISH's offer seems to put a price floor of $4.40 on the stock and could spur a counteroffer from Sprint or another company, potentially sending shares considerably higher. Sprint had called the $3.40-per-share proposal its "best and final offer," but that was when it was the best one on the table. Following Crest's advice seems to be Clearwire's best move here, as its spectrum should only gain value with time. Still, it's clear that this story is far from over. To stay on track, just add Clearwire to your Watchlist here.
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