Charlie Ergen targets Sprint
Charlie Ergen

Billionaire chairman of Dish Network reaches out for Sprint Nextel.

Former professional Blackjack player and now America’s 37th richest man has made a surprise bid to purchase US wireless network operator Sprint Nextel. The USD 25.5 billion offer by Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network is tantamount to elbowing rival bidder, Japan’s SoftBank in the ribs, considering that their offer of USD 20.1 billion for a 70% share in Sprint had already been approved.

The bid is an attempt by the company to adjust to the market realities of decreasing interest in satellite TV and an ever increasing demand for wireless communication services and content. If successful, the acquisition could lead to the creation of a very strong player in the wireless market.

With the increasing use of smartphones and tablets, it is a logical move to merge the 2nd largest satellite TV carrier and the 3rd largest mobile operator, delivering further content to users at favorable rates.

There is of course no guarantee that Dish can pull this one off. On one hand, SoftBank is likely to raise the ante, while telecoms competitors, such as AT&T may also try to table an offer. But Ergen is definitely not a risk-averse person, having made big money as a pro card player.

Indeed, it was his continued winning at blackjack that provided Ergen with the funds to invest into a satellite service provider startup in the 1980’s, which eventually evolved into Dish Network.

Carrying his casino table manners into his new activities, Dish’s 60-year-old chairman has been known as a pushy, ambitious and unabashed businessman. His latest move is very much in line with his previous conduct, which has also included incessant litigations carried out against all odds.

We must add, that he is not relying blindly on luck: his card counting skill and mindset has so far served him well in anticipating industry and market trends.

If he got this one right and if he will succeed, tablet and smartphone users in the US can look forward to some exciting package offers in the years to come.