* CFO Brust says Clearwire deal would be too expensive
* Says gradual increase in equity is more likely
* Brust sees CFO transition sometime in Q1
* Sprint shares up 0.88 pct on NYSE
NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) will not buy out its partners in the Clearwire Corp CLWR.O venture anytime soon, Sprint’s chief financial officer said on Wednesday, noting that such a deal would be too expensive.
CFO Robert Brust was responding to analysts’ speculation that Sprint, which owns roughly 55 percent of Clearwire, would try to take full ownership of the company to increase its control of operational issues such as plans to expand into new markets.
Clearwire, which is building a high-speed wireless network, has several big-name investors including cable operators such as Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Time Warner Cable TWC.N as well as Intel Corp (INTC.O) and Google Inc (GOOG.O).
But in response to questions during a webcast of an investor conference Brust rejected the idea of an acquisition, at least in the near term, even as he conceded that it would help Sprint to have full control.
“The path that’s probably likely is that we’ll continue to infuse some equity (investments) over the coming years and maybe some way down the road to take control of it.” he said. “An imminent move on that would just be very expensive.”
Brust said he expects to leave the company next year as Sprint is searching for a new CFO.
“Sometime probably in the first quarter or so a transition will happen,” he said.
In late afternoon trade, Sprint shares were up 4 cents or 0.88 percent at $4.60 on New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Richard Chang)