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Sprint Officially Offers to Buy Clearwire

Thu, 12/13/2012 - 10:44am
Ben Munson

Clearwire today filed an 8-K to inform investors of Sprint's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosing its intent to acquire the Clearwire Corporation capital stock it doesn't already own. Clearwire's filing reports that the company has convened a special committee of the Clearwire board of directors to review the potential transaction.

Clearwire said in the report that it does not comment upon ongoing negotiations and that there can be "no assurance as to the terms of any potential transaction."

A Bloomberg report values Sprint's offer at $2.1 billion.

As rumors of the deal surfaced in the past few days, Clearwire's stock rose. Today that trend continues, with the company's shares jumping 12.1 percent in response to news of the offer.

Japan's Softbank is expected to acquire a 70-percent stake in Sprint Nextel next year, but that deal has yet to be approved by the FCC. 

Industry analyst Jeff Kagan says Sprint really needs to look competitive with Verizon and AT&T in order to get the deal done with Softbank and that's the main reason it's pursuing Clearwire.

"Sprint needs to put as much technology under their umbrella as quickly as possible to get the [Softbank] deal done," he said. "Without that, Sprint may be lovable but it's like a three-legged dog."

Kagan also said that if the Sprint-Clearwire deal goes through, it will likely mean the end of the Clearwire brand.

"It makes sense both ways, but I think there's more value under the Sprint name." 

Back in October, Sprint acquired a controlling stake in Clearwire. Sprint paid $100 million to purchase shares from Clearwire founder Craig McCaw's investment firm Eagle River Holdings, giving it a 50.8 percent controlling stake in Clearwire.

Sprint previously held a 49.6 percent stake in the company and has long been Clearwire’s largest shareholder.

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