Jan 09 - Charlie Ergen, founder and chairman of Dish Network, makes an unsolicited $2.28 billion bid for Clearwire, trumping Sprint's offer in a possible power play. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The Power Player today is Charlie Ergen. The billionaire founder and chairman of Dish Network and EchoStar - making an unsolicited $2.28 billion bid for Clearwire. His offer for the wireless provider trumps Sprint's $2.2 billion proposal already on the table. Ergen is raising a lot of eyebrows. Some analysts say Ergen's chief goal may not be Clearwire. They speculate his bid is a power play meant to spark a bidding war with Sprint. Or may be payback; Sprint opposed some of Dish's wireless spectrum plans and is blamed for slowing Dish's network building last year. There's also speculation Ergen may be trying to force a three-way partnership between Dish, Sprint and Clearwire. Ergen founded the Dish Network in 1980, after selling satellite dishes from the back of a truck. Today, he is one of the country's richest people with a net worth of at least $9 billion. But he says the pay TV industry has matured. So what's next for Ergen, here's a clue: He's been gobbling up wireless spectrum and in December, the FCC gave him the green light to build a wireless network. Ergen stopped running Dish on a day-to-day basis so he can focus on the company's wireless strategy.