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 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.