Clearwire shares rise on hopes of funding deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Clearwire Corp CLWR.O shares rose more than 1 percent after the wireless service provider said board member Ben Wolff is also acting as a strategic adviser, raising the possibility that it soon might raise more money.

Clearwire, which is 54 percent owned by Sprint Nextel S.N, must raise billions of dollars to complete a high-speed wireless network and help it compete with bigger rivals such as Verizon Wireless.

Wolff has also been hired as adviser and would get a fee if Clearwire enters any transactions on which he advised, Clearwire said in a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

Investors see the agreement as a sign that the company has new funding in its sights, said Mizuho Securities analyst Michael Nelson.

“I think Wolff took the assignment thinking he had a high likelihood of making the deal,” Nelson said.

He said it’s more urgent now that Clearwire expand its network because its competitors are marketing their own high-speed wireless services.

Wolff replaced the company’s founder Craig McCaw as a Clearwire director on January 6.

Clearwire is considering funding options, including selling spectrum, or an equity investment from Sprint or T-Mobile USA, which would rent space on Clearwire’s network at lower rates.

Sprint uses Clearwire's network to operate its high-speed wireless service. T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE, has said it needs more airwaves.

Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications VZ.N and Vodafone Group Plc VOD.L, has built a high-speed wireless network and plans to start selling phones for it starting in March.

Clearwire shares were up 10 cents, or 1.74 percent, at $5.86 in morning trading on Nasdaq.

Reporting by Sinead Carew. Editing by Robert MacMillan