Sprint CEO sees keeping majority Clearwire stake

NEW YORK Wed Dec 9, 2009 5:00pm EST

Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Pasadena, California July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Pasadena, California July 24, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dan Hesse, the chief executive of Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) said he would not let the company's stake in Clearwire Corp CLWR.O go below 50 percent in response to a question about whether the venture would be involved in consolidation.

"I would find it hard for me to imagine a situation where we would let our ownership go below 50 percent," Hesse said in response to a question at a UBS investor conference.

Sprint has a roughly 55 percent ownership in Clearwire, on which it is depending for offering the next generation of wireless data services. Other investors in Clearwire include cable providers Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC.N), as well as Google Inc (GOOG.O) and Intel Corp (INTC.O).

The question came amid a backdrop of speculation about whether Sprint itself could become an acquisition target for Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE).

Hesse declined comment when asked at the conference about two analyst reports that pegged the chances of a DT and Sprint deal occurring at either 2 percent or 55 percent.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Andre Grenon)

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