Sprint Nextel shareholders overwhelmingly approved a merger
with Japanese wireless giant SoftBank Tuesday, ending a months-long battle with
Dish Network and paving the way for completion of the transaction in early
According to a statement, about 98% of votes cast at a
special meeting of shareholders were in favor of the deal.
Dish had launched
a $25.5 billion bid in April for 100% of Sprint, rivaling a $20.1 billion
offer from SoftBank for 78% of the company. After Sprint's board said it would
evaluate the Dish offer and allowed
the satellite giant to conduct due diligence on the wireless carrier,
SoftBank sweetened its bid for the company to $21.6 billion. The new SoftBank
proposal meant less money for Sprint, but gave more cash to Sprint
shareholders. Sprint's board of directors announced on June 10 that the
SoftBank proposal was superior, but gave Dish until June 18 to come up with a
better bid. Dish said on June
18 that it would not make another bid for the carrier.
"Today is a historic day for our company, and I want to
thank our shareholders for approving this transformative merger agreement,"
said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse in a statement. "The transaction with SoftBank should
enhance Sprint's long-term value and competitive position by creating a company
with greater financial flexibility."
The deal is still subject to Federal
Communications Commission approval. The parties said in a statement that they
expect the transaction to be completed in early July.