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Dish tops rival Sprint's bid for Clearwire

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

(Reuters) - Dish Network Corp raised its buyout offer for Clearwire Corp to $4.40 per share, valuing the wireless service provider at $6.5 billion and topping a rival bid by Sprint Nextel Corp by nearly 30 percent.

Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider, already owns just over 50 percent of Clearwire's shares and had increased its offer to $3.40 per share last week under pressure from activist shareholders.

Dish, which is also locked in a battle with Japan's SoftBank Corp to acquire Sprint, raised its bid just two days before the Sprint offer goes to a vote.

"The Clearwire spectrum portfolio has always been a key component to implementing our wireless plans of delivering a superior product and service offering to customers," Charlie Ergen, Dish chairman and co-founder of Dish, said in a statement.

Dish's offer values Clearwire at $6.47 billion, according to its shares outstanding as of May 29.

Clearwire shares were trading up 23 percent at $4.23 after-hours on Wednesday after closing at $3.43. Sprint was up less than one percent, and Dish stock fell 2 percent to $39.25 in after-hours trade.

A spokesperson for Clearwire said the company's special committee would review Dish's revised bid, and had not made any determination to change its recommendation of the current Sprint transaction.

A SoftBank spokesman was not immediately available to comment, while a Sprint spokesman declined comment.

(Reporting by Garima Goel in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Bangalore and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Richard Pullin)

(This story was refiled to remove the repeated word "bid" from the first paragraph)

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