Sprint grabs 100% of Clearwire in $2.2bn deal

Sprint will acquire 100-percent of mobile broadband network Clearwire in a deal worth $2.2bn, the carriers have confirmed, with Clearwire valued at around $10bn in total and Sprint planning to use the extra spectrum for new LTE roll-out. The deal, which had been rumored for some weeks, sees Clearwire's board accept $2.97 per each share Sprint does not currently own; the carrier was already a majority shareholder in Clearwire.

"Clearwire's spectrum, when combined with Sprint's, will provide Sprint with an enhanced spectrum portfolio that will strengthen its position and increase competitiveness in the U.S. wireless industry" the carrier said in a statement on the deal today. "Sprint's Network Vision architecture should allow for better strategic alignment and the full utilization and integration of Clearwire's complementary 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, while achieving operational efficiencies and improved service for customers as the spectrum and network is migrated to LTE standards."

Sprint will also provide Clearwire with up to $800m of financing, which will be handled in the form of exchangeable notes with staggered purchasing over the ten months from January 2013. That financing can be used by Clearwire for developing its network.

Although Clearwire is best known for its early entrance into the 4G market with a WiMAX network, the carrier had more recently been planning its transition to LTE. Back in April, it announced the first 31 LTE cities it planned to enable, having partnered with Qualcomm on 4G equipment required for the roll-out.

The deal is contingent on regulatory approval and other factors, not least that Sprint requires its own acquisition by SoftBank to be approved. If all goes to plan, the SoftBank/Sprint acquisition is expected to close in mid-2013.