Sprint shareholders approve SoftBank takeover, leaving one final step: the FCC

Sprint(s s) is now just one decision short of finalizing its $21.6 billion deal with Japan’s SoftBank. Shareholders on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to approve the takeover, which would put Sprint firmly in SoftBank’s control. Now Sprint only needs acceptance from the Federal Communications Commission to close the book on this eight-month ordeal.
Sprint received votes from 80 percent of its outstanding shares, and of those votes, 98 percent were in favor of the merger. That’s a pretty big turnaround considering institutional investors were decrying its terms just a few weeks ago, and Dish Network(s dish) was breathing down Sprint’s neck, challenging both the SoftBank deal and its acquisition of Clearwire(s clwr).
In the last few weeks Sprint and SoftBank managed to wrest the upper ground away from Dish. Not only did SoftBank distract Sprint shareholders from Dish’s temptations with a tantalizing boatload of cash ($4.5 billion, to be exact), Sprint trumped Dish’s then-winning bid for Clearwire, with a $5-per-share offer for complete control of the WiMAX operator. Clearwire is now firmly back in the Sprint-SoftBank camp – unless Dish pulls off an extraordinary offer.
With shareholder approval and Dish’s withdrawal from the contest, Sprint-SoftBank looks home free. The FCC is weighing how the deal will affect the public interest, but since SoftBank is only bringing money to the table – and not changing the overall U.S. mobile landscape – the commission has little to weigh. Sprint and SoftBank expect to close the deal in early July.