The U.S. wireless industry is one step closer to being reshaped. The Federal Communications Commission today unanimously approved Sprint’s transactions with SoftBank and Clearwire, deals which could alter the landscape in the wireless communications business.
For those who have not been following along, Sprint is attempting to buy the remaining half of Bellevue-based Clearwire that it doesn’t already own. A long-running bidding war with Dish came to a close last month when Sprint upped its offer for Clearwire to $5 per share. Meanwhile, SoftBank is buying Sprint, the nation’s No. 3 carrier, for $21.6 billion.
“Just two years ago, the wireless industry was at the doorstep of duopoly, but with these transformative transactions, we are one step closer to a stronger Sprint which will better serve consumers, challenge the market share leaders and drive innovation in the American economy,” Sprint’s Dan Hesse said in a statement.
The FCC decision was expected, with Bloomberg reporting on the news last week. Clearwire’s shareholders, which have been on a roller coaster ride for the past six months, are set to vote on the transaction on July 8th.
Here’s the press release:
OVERLAND PARK, Kan., BELLEVUE, Wash. and TOKYO – July 5, 2013 – The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it has voted unanimously to approve the applications filed by SoftBank (TSE: 9984), Sprint (NYSE: S) and Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) related to their transactions announced last year.
This decision completes all Federal government reviews of both SoftBank’s investment in Sprint and Sprint’s acquisition of Clearwire. Sprint’s shareholders approved the SoftBank transaction with Sprint on June 25th. Clearwire’s shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Sprint transaction with Clearwire, which has been recommended by Clearwire’s Board of Directors, on July 8th.
“We would like to thank Acting Chairwoman Clyburn, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai, as well as the staff of the FCC for their thorough review of these transactions,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. “Just two years ago, the wireless industry was at the doorstep of duopoly, but with these transformative transactions, we are one step closer to a stronger Sprint which will better serve consumers, challenge the market share leaders and drive innovation in the American economy.”
“We appreciate the forward thinking, consumer focused stance the FCC has taken by approving the proposed transaction. As the company that built America’s first nationwide 4G network, Clearwire looks forward to joining Sprint and deploying an even faster and richer 4G experience for consumers across the country,” said Clearwire CEO and President Erik Prusch. “This is the right transaction at the right time to best deploy Clearwire’s spectrum to create a broadband network that will bring additional services and alternatives to wireless consumers.”
“The FCC’s thoughtful review and approval of these transactions represents an important step toward creating a more competitive U.S. wireless marketplace,” said SoftBank Chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son. “SoftBank’s investment in Sprint will bring innovation and increased customer focus, which will enable us to begin creating a true competitor in a market dominated by two companies. We look forward to leveraging the significant talent and resources of the New Sprint to bring innovation and better service to U.S. consumers.”
Sprint, Clearwire and SoftBank anticipate that the transactions will close in early July 2013, subject to the remaining closing conditions.