Dish still chasing wireless tie-up while chairman faces USD4bn LightSquared suit

8 Aug 2013

The chairman of US pay-TV provider Dish Network has said the company is still looking for a tie-up with a wireless operator despite losing out to Softbank in the race to acquire Sprint earlier this year and also having failed to strike a deal to take a stake in WiMAX operator Clearwire. Charlie Ergen says that Dish is pursuing a possible partnership with Sprint which would help Dish realise its plans to provide wireless services, Reuters reports. The pay-TV firm is also considering the acquisition of another US cellular operator, T-Mobile, and Ergen says bankrupt LTE spectrum holder LightSquared is another target.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Ergen is to be sued by LightSquared shareholder Harbinger Capital Partners for USD2 billion in punitive damages and a further USD2 billion in compensation. Harbinger claims that Ergen has fraudulently been buying up around USD1 billion of LightSquared debt, ‘often at significant discounts to par,’ and is now the bankrupt firm’s largest creditor. According to the lawsuit, Ergen carried out the transactions via an investment vehicle called Sound Point Capital, but his own interest in the dealings was never disclosed. In addition, Harbinger claims that Ergen promised to buy LightSquared debt but then repeatedly deferred the deals, thereby preventing LightSquared from renegotiating its debt. ‘The defendants wrongfully have interfered with Harbinger’s efforts, and this suit seeks to hold them accountable,’ the filing states. Ergen has denied any wrongdoing.