DISH Network has fired back at Japanese telecom SoftBank's reported attempts last week to pressure investment banks into denying DISH the financing it needs to take over Sprint.
The satellite TV company has asked the Federal Communications Commission to essentially throw out SoftBank's request to buy a majority stake of Sprint Nextel because of SoftBank's reported use of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba's anticipated IPO as bait. If an investment bank lends to DISH, the reports say, it will not get a chance to underwrite Alibaba's expected recording public offering.
In its letter yesterday to the FCC, DISH said, "If SoftBank has the power to influence crucial financing decisions of a Chinese company and enlist those decisions in the service of its effort to acquire Sprint, then the proposed foreign ownership needs to be assessed in light of this Chinese company as well."
This is not the first time that DISH has brought up the issue of foreign ownership of Sprint. Writing to the FCC back in December, DISH asked, "Is it in the public interest for a foreign company to control more spectrum below 3GHz than any one other company in the United States?"
DISH also accused SoftBank of trying to undermine its $25.5 billion bid for Sprint with unfair tactics. The SoftBank bid is for $20.1 billion.
"SoftBank is trying to force its offer on Sprint's shareholders by underhandedly seeking to undermine a superior bid," DISH wrote.
Whether or not SoftBank did indeed try to stop DISH from getting the $9.3 billion it needed to finance its proposed merger with Sprint, DISH is on its way to getting what it needs. Yesterday DISH sold $2.6 billion in senior secured notes, and Reuters has reported that four banks - Barclay's, Macquarie Group, Jefferies, and the Royal Bank of Canada - lined up to provide more financing.
This battle royal for Sprint has pitted two very strong-willed company heads against each other. On April 30, Masayoshi Son, the billionaire CEO of SoftBank, told reporters that DISH's bid was "illusory," its figures for the deal were "totally wrong," and that it did not yet have committed financing.
DISH Chairman Charlie Ergen is also not one to shy away from conflict, especially when it is a battle for something he wants. "When we think we are right, we're like a dog with a bone," he once said.
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