Clearwire investors team up to seek higher price

NEW YORK Fri May 3, 2013 4:46pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four minority shareholders with roughly 9 percent of Clearwire Corp's shares have agreed to work together to seek a better deal for the wireless service provider, which agreed to be sold to majority owner Sprint Nextel Corp.

Mount Kellett, Highside Capital Management, Glenview Capital Management and Chesapeake Partners Management Co agreed to band together to talk with Sprint, Dish Network Corp and other interested parties, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

The shareholder group, which owns 127.4 million Clearwire shares or roughly 17 percent of its minority shares, said they were unanimous in their belief that Sprint's December offer to buy Clearwire for $2.97 per share was too low.

Clearwire, Sprint and Dish declined to comment. SoftBank Corp, which is trying to buy Sprint, had said earlier this week that Sprint could be content to continue with its majority ownership if shareholders voted down the deal.

Many shareholders had said they were not happy with the Sprint agreement, especially after satellite TV provider Dish announced a $3.30 per share counter offer for Clearwire in January and then made a bid for all of Sprint itself in April.

Since then, Verizon Communications Inc said it offered to buy spectrum from Clearwire after the smaller company announced in a regulatory filing that it had received a bid for $1 billion to $1.5 billion worth of spectrum.

The deal would need approval from more than half of the minority shareholders at a May 21 meeting where Clearwire shareholders are set to vote on the December agreement with Sprint, which already owns more than 50 percent of Clearwire.

Along with the group, which said it had agreed on May 1 to join forces, another activist investor, Crest Financial, with 57.65 million shares or 8 percent of the minority shares, has said it is not happy with the Sprint offer. Crest has been asking shareholders for support in its proxy battle against the deal.

When it announced the deal in December Sprint said that strategic shareholders in Clearwire with roughly 26 percent of the minority votes said they would support its offer. These shareholders include Comcast Corp and Intel Corp.

Clearwire shares closed up 3 percent at $3.38 on Nasdaq after the news.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)