Sprint Connection

Dish ads promote Sprint bid to Kansas City area

Updated: 2013-04-18T22:04:26Z

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

The Kansas City area was the target of ads that Dish Network Corp. placed Thursday to promote its bid for Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel Corp.

“It’s all coming together,” an online ad at KansasCity.com said above the two companies’ logos placed side by side.

But it wasn’t clear that Dish placed the online ad. Sprint was not involved, though its yellow logo appears prominently.

“Our intention in reaching out — and that extends to the logo — is purely out of respect,” a Dish spokesman said in an email.

A Sprint spokeswoman declined to comment other than to confirm that the company had no role in the ads.

Sprint has been quiet since Monday, when Colorado-based Dish, which operates a satellite television service, offered $25.5 billion for the nation’s No. 3 wireless phone company.

Chief executive officer Dan Hesse, for example, made no mention of the offer when he spoke Thursday to the Competitive Carrier Association’s Global Expo in New Orleans. He spoke about issues shared by Sprint and smaller carriers, including concerns about the dominance of Verizon and AT&T.

Before a Dish-Sprint merger could come together, Dish would have to unseat the $20 billion deal Sprint reached with Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp. last October. SoftBank has said it expects that deal to be completed July 1.

Analysts have said a bidding war is possible.

Should Sprint’s board decide Dish has a better offer, the board has to give SoftBank five days essentially to top that bid or convince Sprint’s board that Dish’s deal isn’t better.

The online ad directed its audience to a website where Dish offered information about its proposal. Because of the regulatory oversight of the publicly traded companies, Dish’s online ad includes a disclaimer page that the viewer has to accept before seeing its material about the merger.

A companion ad that appeared in The Kansas City Star carried a more Kansas City-centric message in an open letter to the “Kansas City community and Sprint employees.”

Signed by Dish chairman Charlie Ergen, the letter promoted the Dish offer for Sprint and offered a bit of history about the satellite television service he helped begin in 1980.

And once the companies agree to merge, the letter said, they will be “mindful of how it will benefit customers, employees, shareholders and, of course, the Kansas City community.”

Dish has said it expects to eliminate up to $11.1 billion in expenses by merging with Sprint. It sees potential cost savings in advertising, call centers, corporate overhead, information technology and other “back office” work, as well as other areas.

Dish hasn’t been specific whether job cuts would be part of those savings. In an interview with The Star, Ergen had said earlier this week that “anybody who wants to help Dish/Sprint to be No. 1 in this industry, they’re going to have a job.”

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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