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Preliminary Clearwire filing recommends Sprint deal to shareholders

Sprint Nextel Corp. is trumpeting a renewed recommendation from Clearwire Corp.’s board of directors that its shareholders accept the $2.2 billion offer Sprint made for the roughly 49 percent of Clearwire it doesn’t already own.

The recommendation came in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission of a preliminary version of the proxy statement Clearwire shareholders will get before their annual meeting.

Clearwire, however, also said in a separate announcement that it continues to evaluate a rival offer from Dish Network Inc. and will “engage in discussions” with both suitors “as appropriate.”

Although the preliminary filing recommends the Sprint deal, a special committee of Clearwire’s directors has left itself room for change. The announcement from Clearwire said the committee “has not made any determination to change its recommendation of the current Sprint transaction.”

Dish Network, which operates a satellite television service and wants to also provide wireless phone service, made its offer after the Sprint and Clearwire boards agreed to their deal.

In a statement Friday, a Sprint spokesman said that Clearwire’s filing “speaks for itself” and that Overland Park-based Sprint expects to complete its acquisition of the remaining Clearwire shares.

“Clearwire’s proxy makes very clear that Sprint’s definitive agreement to acquire Clearwire provides both the best value for shareholders and stability amid an uncertain future,” the Sprint statement said. “We continue to believe that the Dish proposal is illusory and conditioned on many things, including the receipt of governance rights, a spectrum sale and a commercial agreement, which are not actionable under our merger agreement and other agreements between Clearwire and Sprint.”

Shares of all three companies finished higher in trading Friday. Sprint’s stock gained 1.1 percent, an increase of 6 cents to $5.69. Clearwire gained 1 cent to $ 3.19. Dish rose 42 cents to $37.68, a 1.1 percent gain.

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