May 31, 2013

Shareholder firm expects SoftBank to sweeten Sprint offer

Egan-Jones recommends that shareholders hold off on approving the merger agreement.

SoftBank will probably improve its $20.1 billion takeover offer for Sprint, the shareholder advisory firm Egan-Jones said Friday in a report to clients.

Because of those elements, “it would be unwise at this time for the company’s shareholders to approve the merger agreement with SoftBank in its current form,” the firm said.

The change of heart is a setback for Tokyo-based SoftBank, which has said it won’t raise its bid for Overland Park-based Sprint because it is already better for investors than Dish’s offer. While Egan-Jones originally endorsed the SoftBank bid last week, Sprint agreed May 20 to allow Dish access to private financial data, giving Dish information to build a stronger case for its $25.5 billion proposal.

SoftBank and Dish, based in Englewood, Colo., are vying for control of Sprint as each seeks to convert the third-biggest U.S. mobile phone carrier into a stronger competitor against Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

“Sprint remains focused on finalizing its signed merger agreement with SoftBank, which has been recommended by our board of directors,” said Scott Sloat, a spokesman for the company.

A SoftBank spokesman declined to comment.

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