Last October, Softbank, the Japanese wireless company, made an offer to acquire Sprint Nextel. Now there are others that are willing to get a spot on Sprint’s dance card, one of them being DISH Networks, which has now jumped in to acquire the wireless giant. And it gets even better…in order to get this deal done, Sprint Nextel is trying to acquire Clearwire to get their spectrum. In addition, Verizon Wireless has also entered the foray, and is bidding on the Cleariwire spectrum as well.
With DISH Networks and Softbank in a head-to-head competition for Sprint Nextel, the carrier is hoping to strengthen its position with the Clearwire acquisition.
“All of a sudden Sprint Nextel looks stronger. They have been struggling to rebuild and put themselves back on the growth path for years. Under CEO Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel seems to have fixed what was wrong and they have been winning awards. That’s the good part. The bad part is customers haven’t figured that out yet,” says Wireless Analyst Jeff Kagan.
It was rather “interesting” to me that Kagan notes how Sprint’s customers have not figured out that the carrier has fixed what was wrong. If you remember, last week, I posted a blog discussing my experiences upgrading both my smartphone and switching to a different wireless carrier; I had been a loyal Sprint customer for almost 10 years, and was recently “non-plussed” by their services and offerings.”
“We have watched Sprint Nextel try and restart their growth engines over and over with little success. Then Softbank said they want to acquire Sprint late last year. Sprint immediately tried to get the Clearwire spectrum and company under their wing. That looked like the path they were headed,” Kagan adds. “Then DISH Network showed interest in Clearwire spectrum. Then last week DISH Network showed interest in acquiring all of Sprint Nextel and Clearwire. Now we hear that Verizon Wireless wants to get their hands on Clearwire spectrum. All of a sudden it’s a horserace,” says Kagan.
He adds that Sprint Nextel is now in the coveted “catbird seat and has options, leaving them in charge of the deal, and of course obtain a more competitive price for shareholders.
Kagan also speculates about the future of Sprint once a decision is made…will the wireless carrier remain a “wireless company, or will it evolve into soething else as a result of the spectrum?
“If Softbank wins, they are interested in both Sprint Nextel and Clearwire spectrum. They would be interested in keeping the wireless company intact and grow from there,” Kagan says. “If DISH wins, do they win Clearwire or both Sprint and Clearwire? Do they keep wireless intact or just take the spectrum and use it for wireless television? If Verizon wins, they only want the Clearwire spectrum, so Sprint Nextel will remain untouched. There are so many options and no answers yet. We’ll just have to watch and see what happens next. I would not be surprised to see another company jump into the mix before it’s all done either.”