Sprint warned Clearwire in early June that it viewed Dish's latest attempt to buy it as illegal, and now the carrier is following up with legal action. Big Yellow has just announced that its filed a lawsuit against Dish and its acquisition target in Delaware, as it believes the buyout would violate state law and the rights of shareholders and investors in both itself and Clearwire. The Now Network is asking the court to prevent the completion of the deal, rescind certain parts of the agreement and seek "declaratory, injunctive, compensatory and other relief." In the outfit's own words, the suit "details how DISH has repeatedly attempted to fool Clearwire's shareholders into believing its proposal was actionable in an effort to acquire Clearwire's spectrum and to obstruct Sprint's transaction with Clearwire." Stand back folks, the legal fireworks are just starting.
Update: Head past the break to catch a statement from Dish on the matter.
Sprint's lawsuit is a transparent attempt to divert attention from its failure to deal fairly with Clearwire's shareholders, as well as to exploit its majority position to block Clearwire's shareholders from receiving a fair price for their shares. DISH is confident that its superior offer, which has been unanimously recommended by the Clearwire Board, including the majority appointed by Sprint, will be upheld and Clearwire shareholders will be free to realize the 29 percent premium represented by the DISH offer.
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Sprint Files Lawsuit Against DISH Network Corporation and Clearwire Corporation Citing the Illegality of the DISH Tender Offer for Clearwire
If Completed, Tender Offer Would Violate Delaware Corporate Law, Sprint's Bargained-For Rights and the Rights of the Strategic Investors Under the Charter and Equity Holders Agreement
Lawsuit Contends that the Tender Offer is Structurally and Actionably Coercive
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), June 17, 2013 - Sprint (NYSE:S) announced today that it has filed a complaint in the Delaware Court of Chancery against DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) and Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ: CLWR) asking the Court to prevent the consummation of the DISH tender offer for Clearwire. Sprint believes the transaction violates Delaware law and the rights of both Sprint and Clearwire's other strategic investors under Clearwire's charter and under the Equity Holders Agreement ("EHA"). In addition to seeking to enjoin the tender offer, Sprint's lawsuit seeks to rescind certain parts of the tender offer agreement and seeks declaratory, injunctive, compensatory and other relief.
In its complaint, Sprint outlines why DISH's tender offer violates the rights of Sprint and other Clearwire stockholders under Clearwire's governing documents and Delaware law. It also details how DISH has repeatedly attempted to fool Clearwire's shareholders into believing its proposal was actionable in an effort to acquire Clearwire's spectrum and to obstruct Sprint's transaction with Clearwire. Among the points the suit makes:
Sprint and the strategic investors invested billions of dollars in cash and assets to form Clearwire. They entered into a shareholders agreement that established their governance rights (the Equity Holders Agreement (EHA)) as to nominating and electing directors, amending the charter and bylaws, issuance of stock, and other governance matters.
Under Clearwire's charter and the EHA, the DISH Tender Offer (together with the Investors Rights Agreement (IRA) and a related Note Purchase Agreement (the "NPA")), cannot be completed without the approval of holders of at least 75% of Clearwire's outstanding voting securities, nor without the approval of Comcast Corp., neither of which approvals have been obtained. Completion of the tender offer without such approvals is unlawful.
DISH's Tender Offer, if completed, would violate Delaware corporate law and Sprint's and the strategic investors rights under the Charter and EHA by vesting DISH with a veto power over fundamental corporate events that Delaware law places in the control of the directors or shareholders and that the EHA details how many directors and shareholders are required for action.
The IRA requires Clearwire to place and maintain a number of DISH designees on its board of directors in breach of the provisions in the EHA permitting Sprint to nominate 7 directors, the Significant Investors Group to nominate several other directors, and the nominating committee to nominate the remainder.
The IRA violates the Charter by purporting to grant DISH pre-emptive rights that are explicitly prohibited by the Charter.
The DISH Tender Offer is unlawfully coercive because it threatens to leave non-tendering shareholders holding shares in a company subject to governance deadlocks or substantial damage awards to DISH if Clearwire is unable to deliver on the unenforceable promises set forth in the IRA and NPA.
Sprint is asking for Clearwire's Charter and the EHA to be enforced by not letting Clearwire sign the IRA or the NPA and by enjoining the tender offer.
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A copy of the complaint can be found at: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20130617006681/en/