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Clearwire continues review of Dish offer

The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTE
The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTE

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Clearwire Corp said it was still evaluating an acquisition offer from Dish Network Corp for $3.30 per share but hasn't changed its recommendation of a Sprint Nextel Corp buyout offer it agreed to in December.

Clearwire, which is majority owned by Sprint, said Friday it would not draw on an $80-million financing offer from Sprint in February as it was still evaluating the offer from satellite television provider Dish, which said it would withdraw its proposal if Clearwire avails of the Sprint financing.

The wireless service provider, which already declined Sprint financing in January for the same reason, said it had not decided whether it will draw on the Sprint financing in the coming months. As part of its buyout proposal, Sprint said it would buy $80 million of convertible notes per month for up to 10 months.

Clearwire's continued review of the Dish offer may give hope to minority shareholders who have said they are unhappy with Sprint's $2.97-a-share agreement to buy out Clearwire, especially in light of Dish's higher offer in January.

Sprint needs approval from a majority of Clearwire's minority shareholders for its proposed deal.

While Clearwire also issued a proxy statement on Friday recommending that shareholders vote in favor of the Sprint deal, the company, which had a deadline to make the filing, made it clear this may not be its final decision.

Sprint said on Friday it was pleased that Clearwire was still recommending its deal.

"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," Sprint said.

Clearwire shares fell slightly to $3.16 in light premarket trading Friday after closing at $3.18 on Nasdaq Thursday.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Bernadette Baum)

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