updated 03:55 pm EDT, Thu October 18, 2012
Sprint buying Craig McCaw's Clearwire stake for $100M
A regulatory filing revealed today that US carrier Sprint will buy shares in Clearwire Corp. sufficient to take a controlling stake in the wireless carrier. Sprint will pay $100 million to Eagle Rivers Holding, an investment firm owned by Clearwire founder Craig McCaw, in order to acquire a further 30.9 million of Clearwire's Class A shares and 2.73 million Class B shares, bringing Sprint's stake in the carrier from 48 percent to 52.5 percent. The deal will give Sprint control of the spectrum Clearwire controls, likely increasing Sprint's value even as Japanese carrier Softbank moves to buy 70 percent of Sprint.
Sprint's move is in keeping with the general goals of Softbank, which is looking to take a strong position in the American wireless market and has already expressed the acquisition of more spectrum as a means of going about doing so. Softbank revealed a little over a week ago that it would be buying a sizable majority of Sprint for $20 billion, of which $8 billion will be new capital for Sprint on top of the cost to purchase shares from stockholders. That deal is expected to be completed within the next six months.
Bloomberg reports that Sprint had also approached Comcast and Intel in order to discuss purchasing those companies' shares of Clearwire. The carrier is said to have made little progress in those negotiations.
AT&T has weighed in on Sprint's Clearwire acquisition, noting that the move will give the Japanese Softbank "significantly more US wireless spectrum than any other company." An AT&T spokesperson said that the company expects that regulators will pay close attention to the acquisition and its implications for the wireless market.
Clearwire shares are down 9.29 percent in trading today. Sprint shares are up 0.44 percent.