FCC Deadline for Clearwire takeover objections today, Jan 28th
It seems the only objections have been DISH and some major shareholders (Crest, Mt. Kellet, etc.)
If that's it, then I'm wondering if a serious bidder might now be ready to pounce. A serious bidder would have to disrupt the Sprint - Softbank merger, paying enough for Sprint's Clearwire stake that it would make that merger unnecessary.
Either way, it's a win-win situation for Softbank. If Softbank is outbid, they still have a 20% stake in Sprint, and Sprint stock will skyrocket. The important thing is that Clearwire's spectrum is effectively utilized as TD LTE, because ultimately that is what Softbank wants. And Sprint will still have it's wholesale agreement if another party acquires Clearwire.
There have been only those mentioned and what amounts to run-of-the-course procedural input from AT&T and I thought I remember seeing something from metroPCS along the same lines: statements that the amount of spectrum that is held under various licensing arrangements is os a scale and nature that the FCC should look over it, and not simply rubber stamp Sprint's proposal. AT&T made some suggestion that the EBRS licenses be looked at. However, as far as I know this fell short of an 'objection' in the public's understanding.
AT&T has recently made several acquisitions of spectrum in 700MHz and other bands, that, while minor separately, can be viewed as helping them to shore up their portfolio. The context these companies play in has them playing it as 'give a little to get a little'.. or, in some cases, a lot. AT&T will likely want to take part in future TV broadcast and other auctions. So, why object to consolidation carte blanche? For the most part, there has not been a strong call by any of the major competitors. Again, this goes to Sprint being in need of the means of economic survival... the FCC and DoJ know that Sprint may be self-interested in their pursuits, but when they say their situation needs help, that most financial and industry analysts stand behind that.
In a very real way, a harsh decision against Sprint would seal their doom. And conversely, if allowed to move forward with no adjustments whatsoever, Sprint-Softbank will continue to be faced with the need to spend several billions and will face an uphill competitive battle in many respects. If it works out well as it might, S-SB will take about five years to have turned from the threat of becoming a money sucking bottomless pit into solid, repetitive growth in sales and margins. Who knows what will happen with the American economy? We still are a financial basket case that's been decades in the making. Despite the rosy prospects for technology and WBB market growth, S-SB could face the need to economize through consolidation of networks, overheads, etc. to seek out sustainable margins in the future. Nobody hopes for that, but the companies should plan as one of the possibilities.
The FCC and DOJ proceedings thus far have revealed nothing out of the ordinary. A deal as big and structurally impactful as the SB-S-CW acquisition naturally gets looked over closely and some objections were bound to be raised. However, all have been par for the course, including DISH's pounding on the drum. .. loud but it is not going to upset the entire parade.
The objections are significant. The court will have to look at each complaint separately so this can drag on to 2014 or beyond. That means SoftBank most likely will abort their takeover of Sprint. Then Sprint goes back to being an also ran telecom company with lots of debt. Does Sprint drop to $2 a share? Maybe. Meanwhile Clearwire is finally getting attention and not for it's debt but it's valuable spectrum. My view that is shared by others is that Dish wants Clearwire spectrum. They are bidding for all shares I believe with the exception of Sprint owned. But at their takeover price many will not sell so Ergen won't have to fork out as much as it would cost to buy every share. Smart strategy. Son if he were serious would haved topped Dish's bid. My opinion on the matter. SoftBank also has a lot of debt and would have to borrow more to top the Dish offer. Just one more reason that I don't think SoftBank will buy the 70% of Sprint.