Dish Network bids $255 billion for Sprint, goes headtohead with Softbank

In the battle for Sprint's heart, Dish Network always seemed to be stuck in the "friend zone". That's not the case anymore, however, now that Dish has quietly lobbed an informal $25.5 billion offer to purchase the carrier. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that after Dish was knocked-back in its attempts to buy Clearwire, the satellite TV company scrounged together the cash to beat Softbank's multi billion dollar deal. If the bid is made formal, then Sprint's board will have to decide if Softbank's massive size and buckets of cash can be trumped by Dish's spectrum reserves, pay-TV business and ability to skip commercials in a breeze.

Update: Dish clarified on a conference call that its bid for Clearwire is still on the table for the company to consider even if it was turned down, and that the Sprint offer is not contingent on the carrier closing out its Clearwire purchase. Should the deal go through, the plan is to target underserved and rural customers, rather than competing with inner-city fiber-based services. Softbank may find itself beaten by the higher offer, but if Dish succeeds, the Japanese company would still hold around 5% of Sprint's shares.

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DISH Network Proposes Merger with Sprint Nextel Corporation for $25.5 Billion

U.S. technology leader with track record of disrupting entrenched incumbents presents superior alternative to pending SoftBank proposal – DISH offers more cash and a greater ownership stake
Sprint shareholders would receive $7.00 per share, consisting of $4.76 in cash and stock representing approximately 32% in a company with a significantly enhanced strategic position
Creates an industry-leading spectrum portfolio and the only company that can offer customers a fully-integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services
Delivers substantial synergies and growth opportunities estimated at $37 billion in net present value, including an estimated $11 billion in cost savings

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) today announced that it has submitted a merger proposal to the Board of Directors of Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE: S) for a total cash and stock consideration of $25.5 billion. The DISH proposal clearly represents superior value to Sprint shareholders, including greater ownership in a combined company that is better positioned for the future with more spectrum, products, subscribers, financial scale and new opportunities.

DISH is offering Sprint shareholders a total consideration of $25.5 billion, consisting of $17.3 billion in cash and $8.2 billion in stock. Sprint shareholders would receive $7.00 per share, based upon DISH's closing price on Friday, April 12, 2013. This consists of $4.76 per share in cash and 0.05953 DISH shares per Sprint share. The cash portion of DISH's proposal represents an 18% premium over the $4.03 per share implied by the SoftBank proposal, and the equity portion represents approximately 32% ownership in the combined DISH/Sprint versus SoftBank's proposal of a 30% interest in Sprint alone. Together this represents a 13% premium to the value of the existing SoftBank proposal.

"The DISH proposal clearly presents Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank proposal," said Charlie Ergen, Chairman of DISH Network. "Sprint shareholders will benefit from a higher price with more cash while also creating the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in a combined DISH/Sprint with a significantly-enhanced strategic position and substantial synergies that are not attainable through the pending SoftBank proposal."

Mr. Ergen continued, "A transformative DISH/Sprint merger will create the only company that can offer customers a convenient, fully-integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services. Additionally, the combined national footprints and scale will allow DISH/Sprint to bring improved broadband services to millions of homes with inferior or no access to competitive broadband services. This unique, combined company will have a leadership position in video, data and voice and the necessary broadband spectrum to provide customers with rich content everywhere, all the time."

The proposed combination will result in synergies and growth opportunities estimated at $37 billion in net present value, including an estimated $11 billion in cost savings.

DISH has provided additional information regarding the proposed merger via a dedicated transaction microsite that can be accessed at http://www.CompleteDishSolution.com.

Barclays is acting as financial advisor to DISH.

Following is text of the letter that DISH sent to Sprint Nextel Corp. Board of Directors on April 15, 2013.

Board of Directors
Sprint Nextel Corporation
6200 Sprint Parkway
Overland Park, KS 66251
Attn: James H. Hance, Jr., Chairman of the Board

Dear Jim:

On behalf of DISH Network Corporation ("DISH"), I am submitting this proposal for a merger between DISH and Sprint Nextel Corporation ("Sprint"). Our proposal provides Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank Corporation ("SoftBank") proposal. It provides more cash and affords your shareholders the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in a combined DISH/Sprint, which will benefit from a significantly enhanced strategic position and substantial synergies that are not attainable through the pending SoftBank proposal.

We are offering Sprint shareholders a total consideration of $25.5 billion, consisting of $17.3 billion in cash and $8.2 billion in stock. Sprint shareholders would receive $7.00 per share, based upon DISH's closing price on Friday, April 12, 2013. This consists of $4.76 per share in cash and 0.05953 DISH shares per Sprint share. The cash portion of our proposal represents an 18% premium over the $4.03 per share implied by the SoftBank proposal, and the equity portion represents approximately 32% ownership in the combined DISH/Sprint versus SoftBank's proposal of a 30% interest in Sprint alone. Together this represents a 13% premium to the value of the existing SoftBank proposal.

Our proposal provides a highly-compelling and unique opportunity for Sprint shareholders. We are offering an ownership interest in a combined company with a comprehensive product and services suite, a significantly enhanced subscriber base, considerable financial and operating scale, as well as a spectrum portfolio that would lead the industry. As a result, this merger creates sizable cost and CAPEX savings and promises extensive new revenue opportunities.

Leveraging both companies' existing assets and expertise, we will be the only company able to offer a fully-integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services to meet rapidly evolving customer preferences. The new company's assets will immediately establish national cross-platform leadership and will position the company to deliver innovative services while expanding our collective subscriber base.

The proposed combination will result in synergies and growth opportunities estimated at $37 billion in net present value. This includes an estimated $11 billion in cost savings, representing approximately $1.8 billion in annual run-rate cost synergies by the third year after closing.

Further, our combined national footprints and scale will allow us to efficiently develop our joint spectrum assets to provide advanced services to the millions of homes with inferior or no access to competitive broadband services.

I am proud of the company we have built and believe we will be an excellent partner to Sprint. Like Sprint, DISH possesses a strong tradition of innovation and industry leadership. We created the third largest pay-TV provider while competing with incumbent cable monopolies and other entrenched operators. DISH has consistently led our industry in service and technology delivery with award-winning innovations like Hopper® with Sling®. Our history of value creation is outstanding. Investors in our 1995 initial public offering have enjoyed a total return of 27 times their original investment, significantly outperforming the broader markets and our peers. We also have a proven track record of responsible capital management.

DISH has significant experience structuring and consummating strategic transactions and only needs to complete confirmatory due diligence, which we believe can be done quickly with your cooperation. We have examined your merger agreement with SoftBank and we would be prepared to execute a definitive merger agreement on substantially similar terms and conditions. Though not a condition of our proposal, we anticipate that the pending transaction with Clearwire would be completed. We are confident that we can obtain all necessary approvals within a reasonable timeframe.

We intend to fund the $17.3 billion cash portion of the transaction using $8.2 billion of our balance sheet cash and additional debt financing. We have a proven track record in raising capital to fund strategic initiatives and have received a Highly Confident Letter from our financial advisor, Barclays, confirming our ability to raise the required financing.

We would be pleased to discuss our plans for the combined company and we are available at any time to meet with the Sprint Board, management and advisors to answer any questions about our proposed merger. We are confident that the Sprint Board will share our view that this proposed merger offers an excellent opportunity for the equity holders of Sprint to realize a superior value for their shares that is unavailable to them under the SoftBank proposal.

While it would have been our preference to have confidential discussions regarding this proposed merger, your existing agreement with SoftBank and the impending deadlines associated with your shareholder vote, will compel us to confirm our intentions publicly. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very Truly Yours,

DISH Network Corporation

Charlie Ergen
Chairman

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Dish Network bids $25.5 billion for Sprint, goes head-to-head with Softbank