Sprint reportedly in talks for Clearwire takeover

Sprint is talking with Clearwire's other investors about an additional investment that may lead to Sprint buying out the remaining stake in Clearwire.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

Sprint Nextel is in talks with the cable companies over a new round of investment that may lead to a full takeover of 4G partner Clearwire, according to Bloomberg.

Sprint is in discussions with investors Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks, Bloomberg reported today, citing anonymous sources. The report said Sprint is weighing using the investment to fund the acquisition of the remaining stake in Clearwire that it doesn't own.

Such a scenario could provide relief to cash-strapped Clearwire, which is seeking funding to stay alive and expand its network with a newer, faster 4G technology. The company needs $600 million for its network upgrade and additional money to keep its operations going.

Sprint, with a 54 percent stake in Clearwire, is both its largest shareholder and customer. While many believe it is logical for Sprint to absorb Clearwire, Sprint is hesitant to make a deal because it doesn't want Clearwire's losses and debt to weigh on its balance sheet and quarterly results. But Clearwire is quickly reaching a point where it needs help.

Both Clearwire and Sprint declined CNET's requests for comment.

Sprint is also talking with other cable providers Cablevision and Cox Communications. Cox recently attempted to strike out on its own with a wireless network, but ended up scuttling the project because of the cost and lack of interest.

Sprint, meanwhile, needs the additional resources Clearwire's 4G network can bring. Clearwire has already been instrumental in Sprint's recovery over the past year, as customers began to take a second look at the carrier and its 4G offering. But much of that advantage has disappeared with Verizon Wireless launching its own faster 4G network.

More recently, Clearwire's funding issue have led to a halt in the expansion of its network into new markets. At the same time, Verizon recently said it had covered half the country with its recent addition of new markets.

Updated at 6:09 a.m PT: to include Sprint's response.