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Sprint, Clearwire stocks react after Dish bows out

NEW YORK (AP) -- Dish Network Corp.'s decision against raising its bid for Sprint Nextel Corp., leaving the cellphone company to sell a controlling stake to Softbank Corp. of Japan, sent ripples through the stock market Wednesday.

Sprint shares fell 17 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $7.14 in midday trading as the market wrote off the possibility of a continued Dish-Softbank bidding war for the cellphone carrier, which is the country's third largest.

Shares of satellite broadcaster Dish rose $1.01, or 2.6 percent, to $40.10 as investors were relieved that the company wouldn't move deeper into an expensive, risky acquisition. The day's high of $40.71 was close to the six-year high of $40.95 hit in early May.

Dish said late Tuesday that it would not submit a higher bid for Sprint by the deadline Sprint had set. Sprint had cut Dish's due diligence process short.

Dish said it would focus on its bid for Clearwire Corp., a wireless network operator in which Sprint owns a majority stake. With Softbank's financial backing, Sprint is trying to buy out minority shareholders to consolidate its control of Clearwire's spectrum holdings.

Clearwire shares rose 4 cents to $4.60 after rising earlier as high as $4.66, a two-year high. A year ago, Clearwire shares were trading just above $1.

Dish is offering $4.40 per share for Clearwire, while Sprint is offering $3.40. With the stock trading above either offer, investors are expecting improved bids.

Shares of T-Mobile USA fell 10 cents to $22.38. There has been speculation that the fourth-largest wireless carrier is the backup alternative if Dish is not able to buy Sprint. Bloomberg News reported Friday that Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said that buying T-Mobile was his "Plan B" as well. With Softbank now set to acquire 78 percent of Sprint, Son is set to execute his "Plan A" instead.

Softbank is paying $21.6 billion for the Sprint stake, of which $16.6 billion will go to shareholders. The rest will go into Sprint's coffers.

Dish had offered $25.5 billion for all of Sprint.