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Sprint seeks details from Dish on takeover proposal

A woman holding a mobile phone stands in front of Softbank Corp's branch in Tokyo April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino
A woman holding a mobile phone stands in front of Softbank Corp's branch in Tokyo April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

By Liana B. Baker and Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp on Monday said its merger partner, SoftBank Corp, has waived some terms of their agreement so that Sprint can seek more information from rival suitor Dish Network Corp.

The exchange of information between Sprint and Dish indicates the companies are in conversations about the satellite broadcaster's $25.5 billion takeover bid, even if Sprint for now is standing by its $20.1 billion pact with SoftBank.

Dish said it had received a Sprint request for more information about the bid, and a non-disclosure agreement that would keep such information private.

Dish said it had already given some information to Sprint in response to requests from a Sprint special committee.

SoftBank said the waiver it granted does not allow Sprint to disclose nonpublic information or negotiate with Dish.

But Dish said it looks "forward to being able to conduct confirmatory due diligence as soon as possible" with Sprint.

Dish shocked markets two weeks ago with its cash and stock offer for Sprint, which it claimed was superior to the deal SoftBank and Sprint struck last October. Sprint said it had formed a special board committee and hired advisers to consider the Dish bid. But it also said it was still on track to close its deal with SoftBank by July 1.

SoftBank, in a statement, said it had issued the waiver at the request of Sprint's special committee and reiterated its intent to proceed with the deal.

"SoftBank remains highly confident that its fully executed merger agreement with Sprint, under which it has already provided Sprint with $3.1 billion of capital, provides the shareholders of Sprint significantly more value than the highly leveraged approach made by Dish on April 15th," it said.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement that Dish was "confident that the Sprint Board will share our view that this proposal is superior by offering Sprint shareholders greater value with a higher price and more cash."

Dish shares were up 0.8 percent at $40.32 in afternoon trading, while Sprint shares were off 1 cent at $7.11.

(Reporting By Liana B. Baker and Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Sofina Mirza-Reid and John Wallace)

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