Sprint Nextel has said it will begin early discussions with Dish Network on the latter's proposed $25.5bn acquisition of the telecoms firm.
The company said it had received a waiver from Japan's SoftBank clearing the company of an acquisition agreement it had previously entered with SoftBank, and opening the way for the Dish offer announced earlier this month.
Under the terms of the waiver, Sprint said that it will be able to discuss the offer with Dish behind closed doors. The company noted that the waiver does not clear Sprint to enter into negotiations with Dish Network on a merger.
Rather, the company said, the talks would allow Sprint to examine whether the bid from Dish "is reasonably likely to lead to a superior offer (as defined in the Sprint-SoftBank merger agreement) and the Sprint board has considered such assessment."
The announcement comes two weeks after Dish Network first floated its proposed acquisition of the telecoms firm. The proposal would pay out a $7 per-share price to Sprint Nextel shareholders and, according to Dish, would prove a better value for the company than its previous deal with SoftBank.
Analysts have noted that, should the deal be made, Dish Network would find itself with a valuable piece in its efforts to expand its television broadcasting service into the mobile space.
The announcement from Sprint comes on the heels of word from T-Mobile that its own multi-billion dollar telco buy was heading towards completion. The company last week announced that MetroPCS shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of its $16bn acquisition bid.
This potential $25bn merger shows that there are still larger amounts of cash available in the technology industry for acquisitions and investments, despite the economic downturn.
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