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Bidding war over Sprint Next Corp. heating up

NEW YORK (AP) -- The chairman of satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corp., which is trying to buy Sprint Nextel Corp., is daring Sprint's other suitor to raise its bid.

Dish's Charlie Ergen told investors and reporters Thursday that based on the benefits Japan's Softbank says it would get from buying Sprint, it should be paying a higher price.

Last week, Softbank's CEO Masayoshi Son said Dish's $25.5 billion offer for Sprint is based on "incomplete and illusory" numbers, and argued that Softbank's $20.1 billion offer for 70 percent of the company is a better value.

Softbank can close the deal up to a year faster than Dish and brings industry expertise and cash to Sprint, he said. In addition, the combined Softbank and Sprint would be a huge purchaser of phones and network equipment, which should help it secure volume discounts, he said.

Ergen said Thursday that if Softbank is really confident in its calculations, "they would look at paying quite a bit more for Sprint than we have offered so far."

"Realistically, the curtain is now up on Sprint, both Dish and Softbank see tremendous value there. Shareholders are going to be the winners, and who knows where this goes," Ergen said.

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