Will SoftBank Raise its Offer to Buy Sprint?


Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH ) Chairman Charlie Ergen thinks that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was bluffing when he said that he would not raise the price of his offer for Sprint (NYSE: S ). The two corporate leaders got into a war of words this week, but instead of tweeting back and forth like a bunch of celebrities , Son held a press conference to reassure investors that SoftBank would win the bid for Sprint.

"Charlie has no expertise in the mobile industry," the executive told Reuters . He referred to Dish Network as being an "amateur" player within the mobile space.

Ergen responded to Son's criticism by reminding investors of Dish Network's higher price.

"We're offering a higher price. That's just math," Ergen told USA Today . "We are an American company, and the modernization of Sprint's network will have to be done from the U.S. You have to climb the towers here, and you'll have to have U.S. employees who speak English. Operations command control will be in America. That's good for jobs. It doesn't mean that the other guys are bad. It's just that we have an advantage."

Ergen also said that he was "disappointed" by Son's conference, which was more about "personal attacks" than "business."

"It's insulting to managers of Sprint to say that the only team that knows how to build a network is in Japan," he said.

The feud stems from Dish Network's unexpected offer to purchase Sprint, which came roughly six months after SoftBank announced its intentions to acquire the company.

Back in October, SoftBank offered $20.1 billion for a 70 percent stake in America's third-largest carrier. At the time, Benzinga's Jeff Uscher speculated that SoftBank wanted Sprint to bolster its technology and expand into China.

When no other buyers emerged (and when no other buys appeared on the rumor mill), SoftBank thought that its offer was safe.

Dish Network changed all that when it decided to offer $25.5 billion for Sprint -- a significant increase over SoftBank's offer. The unprecedented deal came after the satellite provider failed to successfully build its own mobile network.

If Dish Network had been successful in its previous venture, it could have created a fifth major player in the crowded cellular service industry. By acquiring Sprint instead, Dish Network will enter the market as the third most popular carrier by default.

Whether or not it will maintain that position remains to be seen.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: DISH , S


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