Sprint Nextel buys affiliate for $6.5 billion

Agreement to acquire Nextel Partners ends bitter dispute between the two companies over value of the deal.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
Sprint Nextel agreed Monday to buy another one of its affiliates, Nextel Partners, for $6.5 billion, ending a bitter dispute between the two companies.

For months, Sprint Nextel has been trying to buy Nextel Partners, but the two sides have not been able to agree on a price. Sprint Nextel had even filed lawsuits against the affiliate, which serves midsize and small markets using the Nextel brand name.

Sprint Nextel argued that the price Nextel Partners was offering was too high because the company's stock was inflated due to the expectations of a buyout. Sprint Nextel ended up paying $28.50 per share for Nextel Partners, which closed at $26.32 a share on Monday.

Sprint has been buying up affiliates since its merger with Nextel was finalized in August.

Last month, it bought Alamosa Holdings, based in Lubbock, Texas, for $4.3 billion. It also bought U.S. Unwired, based in Lake Charles, La., for $1.3 billion; Gulf Coast Wireless, based in Baton Rouge, La., for $287.5 million; and IWO Holdings based in Albany, N.Y., for $427 million.