Reports are coming out today that Sprint is in talks to buy the 49 percent of Clearwire that it doesn’t already own.
The talks – reported first by CNBC– said Sprint is pursuing the vast spectrum holdings of Bellevue-based Clearwire. Citing unnamed sources, CNBC reported that a deal could be announced before the year ends.
Talks were expected after Sprint was acquired by Japan’s Softbank in October, a deal that gave Sprint an $8 billion war chest to make investments and other moves to better compete against AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The potential for tax increases next year could also be an incentive for Clearwire to make the deal sooner rather than later.
Clearwire Chairman John Stanton declined to comment on the deal, after a Seattle CityClub luncheon where he was speaking today.
Clearwire closed up 12 percent at $2.68 today.
Clearwire was founded by wireless pioneer Craig McCaw with the vision of providing a national wireless broadband network but that never got enough traction, so Clearwire has lately turned its focus to providing extra capacity to wireless companies’ 4G LTE networks.
Sprint committed to using Clearwire’s LTE service in a deal that restructured the companies’ complicated partnership last year.
Clearwire’s reorganization and struggles to afford its costly network buildout led the company to shed around 3,400 jobs in recent years, leaving it with around 900 employees, including around 400 locally.