Sprint Buys Back Controlling Stake in Clearwire

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has bought back a controlling stake in its 4G WiMax partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), it emerged Thursday.

Sprint said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it has bought a stake in Clearwire from Eagle River Holdings LLC that brings its interest back to a controlling 50.8 percent. Sprint's stake in Clearwire fell below 50 percent for the first time since May 2008 in July 2012. (See Sprint's Stake in Clearwire Falls Below 50%.)

The deal comes just days after SoftBank Mobile Corp. announced a deal to take a 70 percent stake in Sprint for US$20.1 billion. That deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

Why this matters
The deal will give SoftBank, through Sprint, control over Clearwire's vast 2.5GHz-2.6GHz spectrum holdings in the U.S. SoftBank uses 2.6GHz for its LTE TDD in Japan, and Clearwire has been testing similar 4G technology stateside, so the move suggests that the companies could move to introduce a faster 4G network in the U.S. and fulfill Clearwire's plans. (See Defining 4G: What the Heck Is LTE TDD? and Clearwire Targets 31 Cities for LTE TDD .)

For more
Catch up on our SoftBank-Sprint coverage below:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:18:55 PM
re: Sprint Buys Back Controlling Stake in Clearwire

I've been thinking about Clearwire's other investors, including Comcast & Bright House. They've essentially given up on Clearwire, instead joining forces with Verizon Wireless. But if Softbank doesn't see a need to buy them out, I can't imagine who would.

It's also interesting to think about whether the cable companies, because of their ownership stake, will be privy to competitive information about Clearwire that could impact what they do with Verizon.

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