Dish Chair Calls Sprint ‘Most Likely Partner’ If Clearwire Deal Doesn’t Intervene

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Dish Network Corp. chairman Charlie Ergen on Wednesday described Sprint Nextel Corp. as the satellite TV service’s “most likely partner.” But that came with a big caveat tied to Clearwire Corp., which both Dish and Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint want to purchase.

Dish is trying to start a new wireless cellphone network with broadband spectrum it owns, and during a Wednesday call with investors Ergen said Sprint would make the most likely partnership candidate for Dish — if Dish is able to clinch its purchase of Clearwire.

Sprint is attempting to buy the 49 percent of Clearwire shares it doesn’t already own for $2.97 a share. Dish has offered Clearwire $3.30 a share. Both companies want Clearwire because of its wireless spectrum assets, which carriers need to handle increased demand from users of mobile devices.

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