* FCC commissioners could vote on draft order as soon as
* FCC approval is last hurdle in SoftBank's battle for
By Alina Selyukh and Sinead Carew
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, June 27 U.S. regulators do
not plan to ask Sprint Nextel Corp or Clearwire Corp
to sell any spectrum as they near a vote on Sprint's
proposed buyout of Clearwire, two sources familiar with the
matter said on Thursday.
The Federal Communications Commission is examining Sprint's
proposed buyout of the shares it does not already own in
Clearwire in the same review process as the $21.6 billion bid
from Japan's SoftBank Corp to buy 78 percent of Sprint.
The FCC on Thursday indicated that it was close to making
its call on the deals as acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said
she has circulated a draft order recommending the approval of
the deals to the FCC's other two commissioners.
She and the other two FCC commissioners could vote on the
order as soon as Friday, after staff scour through more than 70
pages of the document compiled by FCC experts.
FCC approval is the very last hurdle in SoftBank's drawn-out
battle to take control of Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless
provider. The deal would mark the largest-ever overseas
acquisition by a Japanese company.
Clearwire is an important part of SoftBank's interest in
Sprint because Clearwire holds a large amount of wireless
airwaves that would help Sprint compete with bigger rivals.
SoftBank has already fended off aggressive rival bids by
Dish Network Corp chairman and founder Charlie Ergen
for both Sprint and Clearwire and won support from shareholders
who had originally favored Dish's offer.
SoftBank has also received approval from U.S. antitrust and
national security regulators as well as Sprint shareholders.
The FCC has to weigh whether the deals are in
the U.S. public's interest.
Crest Financial, a minority shareholder in Clearwire, had
urged the FCC to require Sprint to divest some of Clearwire's
spectrum in order to receive approval for the deal. But the FCC
plans to make no such demands, according to the two sources, who
spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the order
are not yet public.
Crest declined to comment for the story.
Both Clearwire and Sprint said they were "very appreciative
of the Chairwoman's action" on Thursday. SoftBank declined