Sprint's bid for Clearwire still uncertain

When Japan's Softbank agreed to purchase 70% of U.S.-based Sprint for $20.1 billion in October, the deal, still pending final approval, made the combined entity the third-largest mobile services provider in the world. 

For its part, Sprint is still aiming to improve its network in order to compete with Verizon and AT&T. Recent reports from Reuters have disclosed that Sprint is interested in purchasing the remaining 49% of Clearwire, of which it is already the majority stakeholder. Clearwire currently ranks fifth among U.S. wireless providers and Sprint is hoping to capture full ownership of its wireless spectrum. 

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According to a report from Reuters, Sprint's proposal has been complicated by Clearwire shareholders seeking more value per share and the contingency of funding on completion of the Softbank deal, which is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2013.

On Tuesday, Sprint raised its ownership of Clearwire to 50.45% after purchasing Eagle River Holdings' stake. It will also have to acquire the 12.4% owned between Intel Corp. and Comcast. 

As of yesterday, Sprint's offer was $2.1 billion valued at $2.90 per share. Clearwire shareholders, representing about 7.6% ownership of the company, have criticized the deal, with one source telling Reuters that something between $5 and $7 per share would be a fair range. In recent days, Clearwire shares have jumped nearly 15% as investors expect a high price. 

While Clearwire is struggling and in need of a solution, the report says the deal had tentatively been aimed for mid-2013, and that Clearwire was also exploring undisclosed alternatives. 

According to Reuters, any deal will have to gain the approval of Softbank, which has stated it does not want to see Sprint go above $2.97 per share. Talk of an offer at around $3.50 per share has been mentioned, but Clearwire shareholders still expect more in what looks to be a negotiation driven significantly by timing. 


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