Sprint has named both Dish and Clearwire in a lawsuit today to prevent Dish’s potential acquisition of a large quantity of Clearwire stock. That statement seems relatively straightforward, but the details get pretty muddy.
Sprint, of course, has a vested interest in the fate of Clearwire; they are the majority shareholders, owning 50.2 percent of the company’s stock. They are also bidding on that remaining 49.8% that Dish is after, given that the Clearwire spectrum features prominently in Sprint’s future LTE rollout plans. Sprint asserts that the Dish offer is nothing more than an attempt to trick Clearwire’s shareholders; seventy-five percent of the Clearwire shareholders would need to vote in favor of the Dish buyout, and Sprint is in a position to guarantee that just a bit more than half of those shareholders won’t be interested. Even if this issue were to be circumvented, the deal would remain unlawful according to Sprint. Sprint argues it would leave Dish with “veto power over fundamental corporate events that Delaware law places in the control of the directors or shareholders”.
As some of you may already be aware, there is yet another level to this. While Dish is battling it out with Sprint over Clearwire, Dish also has a second front open as they bid against SoftBank to obtain, you guessed it, Sprint. On June 25 Sprint shareholders will vote on the current offer from SoftBank for 21.6 billion dollars, which would in turn help Sprint to complete their buyout of Clearwire.
The lawsuit came late in the day, so we’ll have to wait for the response from Dish. I suspect Dish won’t find the matter quite as cut and dry as Sprint made it out to be.