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SoftBank says it does not plan to boost its offer for Sprint

Updated: 2013-06-25T15:34:23Z

By STEVE ROSEN

The Kansas City Star

SoftBank Corp. signaled Tuesday it does not plan to sweeten its $20.1 billion bid for 70 percent of Sprint Nextel Corp, which is weighing a counteroffer from Dish Network.

Masayoshi Son, chief executive of the Japanese telecommunications company, spoke for the first time at length about the buyout battle for Sprint since the Dish offer went public earlier this month. During a media briefing in Tokyo on SoftBank’s latest earnings, Son said it was not possible to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the two bids. Dish offered $25.5 billion for Sprint several weeks ago.

SoftBank has more experience in wireless phone networks than Dish, which gets most of its sales from satellite broadcasting, Son said. He also said the Japanese company’s offer gave the U.S. carrier more buying power and less debt to repay than Dish’s proposal, Son said.

Asked whether he was considering altering the terms of his offer, Son replied: “People ask me, will SoftBank be increasing the price for the offer? Why should we? We are already providing a better deal than the Dish proposal.”

Son also turned up the war of words on Charlie Ergen, the Dish chairman.

“I just deliver the results, instead of big-mouthing about the future,” Son said. “Do you want to attach a satellite dish to your smartphone? It’s going to become much heavier. I don’t see any real meaningful value that he can offer to the smartphone customers.”

Dish, based in Englewood, Colo., said it continues to believe its offer is better than SoftBank’s. “We remain confident that the Sprint board will share our view that the Dish proposal is superior by offering Sprint shareholders greater value with a higher price and more cash,” Dish said.

Sprint declined to comment.

SoftBank reported a record $7.59 billion operating profit for the year ended March 31, up 10 percent from the previous year, and Son forecast further increases for the rest of this year.

The Japanese company, according to news service reports, received support for the deal from Intel Corp. chief executive Paul Otellini, who wrote to the Federal Communications Commission saying Son’s vision to build a high-speed U.S. national network was compelling.

“We need this competition in the wireless space as the ATT/Verizon model is not giving that to consumers at this time,” Otellini said.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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