Dish Network, the country's second-biggest satellite TV company, has made a surprise $25.5 billion offer for Sprint.
The cash-and-stock offer is an attempt to ward off an attempted acquisition of Sprint by Japan's SoftBank Corp. Dish said its offer would give Sprint greater ownership in a company better positioned in terms of spectrum, products, subscribers and financial scale.
As Reuters noted, Sprint's shares surged to their highest level since September 2008, at a value well above that of the Dish offer. Dish stock fell.
The offer was another bold move for Dish, which already had an offer on the table for Clearwire Corp, a wireless company in which Sprint had a majority stake. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has spent billions buying up wireless spectrum to prepare for some sort of wireless deal.
Sprint, the country's third-biggest 3 U.S. mobile services provider, agreed in October to sell 70 percent of its shares to SoftBank for $20 billion. But no date has been set for a vote on the deal.
"A transformative DISH/Sprint merger will create the only company that can offer customers a convenient, fully-integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services," said Ergen in a statement. "Additionally, the combined national footprints and scale will allow DISH/Sprint to bring improved broadband services to millions of homes with inferior or no access to competitive broadband services. This unique, combined company will have a leadership position in video, data and voice and the necessary broadband spectrum to provide customers with rich content everywhere, all the time."
As of 11:10 a.m. ET Monday, Dish stock was down nearly 7 percent to $35.01 per share. Sprint stock was up nearly 14 percent to $7.08 per share.