Sprint to buy rest of Clearwire for $2.2 billion

The carrier has signed a deal to acquire Clearwire for $2.97 a share. When the deal closes, Sprint will own all of Clearwire.

After rumors suggested a deal was near, Sprint announced today it has signed an agreement to acquire the shares of Clearwire that it does not already own.

According to Sprint, the companies have agreed to a per-share price of $2.97 on the approximately 50 percent stake in Clearwire it does not currently own. The total price will hit $2.2 billion, giving Clearwire a value of $10 billion when its debt and lease obligations are taken into account.

Rumors have been swirling for months that Sprint would acquire Clearwire, which owns spectrum and sells service to carriers and cable companies. Earlier this year, Sprint bought out Eagle River Holdings' stake in Clearwire, giving it majority ownership. However, Softbank, which has announced plans to acquire a 70 percent stake in Sprint, has been eyeing Clearwire since that time and wanted to control Clearwire as part of its relationship with Sprint.

Last week, a report suggested that Softbank was unwilling to allow Sprint to offer any more than $2.90 a share for Clearwire . That was the same price Sprint paid for Eagle River Holdings' Clearwire shares. Some Clearwire shareholders, who were reportedly speaking on condition of anonymity, said last week that they would want around $5 a share.

At $2.97 per share, Sprint is paying a 128 percent premium on the value of Clearwire shares the day before Sprint-Softbank discussions were first confirmed in October. However, that price is a discount on Clearwire's current share price, which closed Friday at $3.37 -- up 6.7 percent on speculation that Sprint would make a bigger offer on Clearwire.

In premarket trading this morning, Clearwire shares are down 8.6 percent to $3.08.

In a statement today, Sprint said the Clearwire acquisition will give the company an enhanced spectrum portfolio. Sprint plans to integrate Clearwire's 2.5GHz spectrum assets into its network, which the company says, will deliver better service to customers as it continues its 4G LTE rollout.

Sprint and Clearwire aren't the only companies involved in this deal. Comcast, Intel, and Bright House Networks all own about 13 percent of Clearwire's voting shares. However, according to Sprint, all of those companies have agreed to the buyout.

In addition, Sprint said today that it has separately entered into an agreement with Clearwire to give the company up to $800 million in additional financing in the form of exchangeable notes.

Sprint hopes to close the Clearwire acquisition in mid-2013. The deal is contingent on regulatory approval as well as the approval of Clearwire shareholders. The deal is also contingent on the Sprint-Softbank deal being officially executed. That deal is also expected to close in the middle of next year.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.

 

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