BOSTON/NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Philip Falcone may be wishing upon a star - the Republican super strategist kind, that is - to keep his ailing telecom start-up LightSquared Inc alive.
With only days to go before hitting a new deadline set by LightSquared’s debtors and lacking regulatory authority to move forward with his business plans, Falcone is leaning on Karl Rove, one of the Republican party’s most successful political strategists.
Rove, often considered the mastermind behind George W. Bush’s presidency, has been quietly working with LightSquared as a strategic counselor for about a year, the company said.
Late on Tuesday Rove fought LightSquared’s corner in an opinion piece he penned in Politico that criticized the Obama administration for missing opportunities to create jobs. ()
The Federal Communications Commission in February said it plans to rescind permission for LightSquared to build a high-speed wireless network after tests found that it could cause interference with devices that use the global positioning system.
“But rather than solving this issue in a reasonable way, the Obama administration is now proposing to shut down LightSquared’s operations before the network can even be launched,” wrote Rove.
LightSquared debt holders, including billionaire investor Carl Icahn and hedge fund manager David Tepper, have given Falcone until next Monday to prevent the company from being forced into bankruptcy.
With a 96 percent stake in the company, Falcone’s hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners has tied its future to LightSquared. Falcone himself is a LightSquared board member but has said he may reduce his own role if the creditors hold off on a default.
As Falcone scrambles to salvage his signature investment, he may soon meet Rove in person away from Washington. Both men are scheduled to attend the Skybridge Alternatives Conference in Las Vegas next week where Anthony Scaramucci, the organizer, prides himself on bringing together powerful people from finance and politics.
Rove, while not officially a LightSquared lobbyist, joins a long list of well-connected people from both sides of the political spectrum who have worked for LightSquared.
Last year when LightSquared worked to secure the government’s provisional approval to build the network, it spent $2.5 million on lobbyists, nearly 10 times the $265,000 it spent in 2010.
It employed 15 lobbying firms, according to OpenSecrets.org which tracks lobbying activities, and listed former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, as a lobbyist.