Dish Network's Chairman Ergen seeks $1B for possible M&A

Charlie Ergen, the chief executive at Dish Network, is looking to create a separate company that will be focused on mergers and acquisitions in the technology, media and telecom sectors, with a focus on the wireless industry.

Importantly, Ergen is hoping to raise around $1 billion for the effort.

Ergen disclosed his plans in a filing last week with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. As detailed by Multichannel News, he's looking to create a "blank check" company called CONX that would raise money from investors via an initial public offering to "effect a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses or assets."

Ergen explained in the company's SEC filings that CONX hasn't yet "selected any specific business combination target," but would instead leverage Ergen's "extensive experience in founding and growing multi-billion dollar companies to deliver shareholder value and a track record of executing transformative transactions."

As Multichannel News explained, CONX is one of more than 100 special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) launched this year. Such companies are designed to match a seasoned management team with investors, and can offer private companies a quick path to cash without the hassle of an IPO.

So what might Ergen want to invest in? Considering he's in the midst of building a nationwide 5G network, it certainly could have something to do with the companies he's working with on that project.

"While we may pursue an acquisition opportunity in any industry or geographic region, we intend to focus our search on identifying a prospective target that can benefit from our operational expertise in the TMT [technology, media and telecom] industry, including the wireless communications industry," CONX wrote in its SEC filing.

There's certainly precedent for that kind of transaction. After all, Rakuten in Japan is building a similar 5G network, and the company recently increased its stake in Altiostar, one of its software vendors. It's reasonable Ergen has similar ambitions.

Dish's named 5G vendors range from Mavenir to Nokia to Fujitsu.

A representative from Dish Network declined to discuss the matter beyond the filing.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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