Clearwire Grabs $1.1B in Debt Funding

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has secured a crucial $1.1 billion in debt funding while its part owner, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), has put forward three new candidates for the operator's board.

Clearwire says it will use the funding on capex and other "corporate expenditures." To this end, Clearwire Communications is offering $175 million in first-priority senior secured notes due in 2015, $500 million of second-priority secured notes due in 2017, and $500 million of exchangeable notes due in 2040, and will grant the initial purchasers of the exchangeable notes an option to purchase up to an additional $100 million of exchangeable notes.

Sprint, meanwhile, is putting up three new candidates for Clearwire's board of executives. Three of Sprint's top execs, including CEO Dan Hesse, left the Clearwire board in September, citing antitrust concerns. The operator said then it would nominate independent directors for the vacant positions. Its choices are:

  • William R. Blessing, an ex-Embarq SVP, who is currently a consultant to Burns & McDonnell, "where he advises clients on smart grid and telecommunications strategy"

  • Ex-AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) man Mufit Cinali, who is now a managing director with Springwell Capital Partners, LLC

  • Hossein Eslambolchi, who is currently a technical adviser to Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and the University of California School of Engineering and had also held several high-level positions with AT&T

Why this matters
The debt funding is a boost to Clearwire as it is actively hunting for money to keep trucking with its WiMax network expansion plan. The operator announced plans to lay off 15 percent of its workforce in November to ease its cash burn.

The debt funding, however, is by no means the end of Clearwire's search for cash. "We continue to pursue potential equity investments from our significant investors, potential equity investments from new investors and a potential sale of excess spectrum," a company spokesman tells LR Mobile.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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