Breakout

Softbank, DISH Merger War for Sprint Heating Up: Menezes

Breakout

It has been eight months since the first offer to acquire the country's third largest mobile carrier was made, and not only have the stakes been raised since then, so has the intensity.

While SoftBank's (SFTBY) latest $21.6 billion offer for Sprint Nextel (S) has received unanimous board backing, industry experts say don't count DISH Network (DISH) out of the picture just yet.

"Don't be surprised if DISH comes back with another counter offer, rather than just stepping aside and letting SoftBank win the day," says Bill Menezes, principal mobile phone industry analyst at Gartner in the attached video.

For now, despite the board backing, it seems as if this deal won't be closing any time soon. "It's gotten even more intense with SoftBank increasing significantly the amount of cash it's willing to pay to Sprint shareholders," Menezes says of the contest, noting that this might be the key to successfully winning over some large shareholders who aren't interested in retaining their stake in a new Sprint.

In fact, there's another twist emerging in the saga to take control of the ailing carrier, and that is renewed interest in acquiring its smaller rival T-Mobile (TMUS).

Just today, SoftBank's CEO Masayoshi Son is quoted by Bloomberg as saying if the Sprint deal doesn't work out, he will go after T-Mobile, which is now owned by Deutsche Telecom, and refers to the move as his "plan B." It's a move that not only will serve as leverage in negotiations, but also one that would likely be mimicked by DISH.

Ultimately though, Menezes says he's confident that when all the dust settles, it will by SoftBank in control Sprint, allowing the much-needed refurbishments to finally begin.

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