(Adds details about share ownership, share price update)
By Nadia Damouni and Sinead Carew
NEW YORK Dec 11 Sprint Nextel Corp is in
talks with Intel Corp and Comcast Corp to buy
out their stakes in the U.S. wireless provider Clearwire Corp
, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The No. 3 U.S. cellular company, which owns just over 50
percent in Clearwire, would still need buy out the rest of the
minority shareholders in Clearwire to gain full ownership.
Intel and Comcast own a combined basis roughly 12.4 percent
of Clearwire's total shares outstanding, including publicly
traded stock and Class B shares, according to a Clearwire
Some minority Clearwire shareholders have publicly expressed
concerns over a potential deal with Sprint, suggesting that
Clearwire should look at other options.
Those shareholders include Mount Kellet Capital Management
LP - the No. 2 holder of Clearwire's public shares with a 7.7
percent stake - and another top shareholder, Crest Financial
Limited, which owns almost 7 percent, according to Thomson
Clearwire shares rose almost 12 percent on Tuesday after a
CNBC report that Clearwire's majority shareholder, Sprint, was
moving closer to a deal to buy the rest of the company.
Citing unnamed people close to the situation, CNBC said
Sprint was in discussions to buy the 49 percent of Clearwire it
does not already own and that a deal might be announced before
the end of the year.
Sprint, which wants full ownership of Clearwire's wireless
spectrum, has been in continuing negotiations with the company,
but it is in no rush to finalize a deal, people familiar with
the matter have told Reuters.
Consolidating the two companies' balance sheets could risk
delaying the closing of Sprint's $20.1 billion deal with
Softbank, a separate source close to the matter said.
While the timing of a Clearwire takeover is unclear, it had
been planned for around the middle of next year, one of the
people had said.
The people requested anonymity because the matter is not
public. Sprint, Clearwire, Intel and Comcast all declined to
Clearwire, whose biggest customer is also Sprint, has been
looking to raise new financing as it could run out of money by
the end of the third quarter of 2013.
Clearwire is also under pressure to move ahead with an
upgrade of its network for high-speed wireless services.
CNBC reported that Sprint had been in talks in recent days
with other Clearwire shareholders, which include Bright House,
Intel and Comcast, to buy their shares of the company at about
The report said that Sprint's offer price for the 488
million shares that are held by the public remained unclear.
Sprint has increased its ownership of Clearwire to 50.45
percent with the purchase of Eagle River Holdings' stake, which
closed on Tuesday.
Clearwire shares closed up 11.67 percent at $2.68 on Nasdaq
after the report, while Sprint fell 1.59 percent to $5.57.
(Reporting By Nadia Damouni and Sinead Carew in New York; Noel
Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Maureen
Bavdek, Nick Zieminski, Lisa Von Ahn and Bernard Orr)