Sprint buys controlling stake in Clearwire following Softbank deal

By on October 18, 2012, 1:30 PM

Sprint has reached an agreement with Craig McCaw’s holding company to purchase roughly 31 million Clearwire Class A Common shares and 2.7 million Class B Common shares. It’s a significant deal as it will give the wireless carrier controlling ownership of Clearwire and their board. Sprint will pay Eagle River Holdings $100 million for the shares.

News of the transaction came via a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Share value in Clearwire is down nearly eight percent at this hour but that’s after prices more than doubled in the wake of speculation surrounding a buyout of Sprint by Japanese investment firm Softbank earlier this month.

As was expected, Softbank recently announced plans to purchase a 70 percent stake in Sprint as part of a deal valued at $20.1 billion in cash. The company will use $12.1 billion to purchase stock and invest $8 billion directly into the struggling US carrier. That deal is expected to be finalized sometime in mid-2013 pending customary regulatory approval.

It is believed that Softbank urged Sprint to gain control of Clearwire on their own instead of getting mixed up in yet another takeover bid. According to reports, Softbank’s 4G network in Japan uses technology and frequencies that are identical to what Clearwire has planned for their 4G rollout.

Given Sprint’s new controlling ownership, it’s likely that we will see Softbank and Clearwire work together to develop and build a 4G network in the US.

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