Deals

Sprint finalizes Clearwire buyout for $2.2B

In a move that will give Sprint much of the spectrum it needs to continue building out an LTE 4G network, the carrier announced this morning that it will buy the remaining shares of Clearwire for $2.2 billion, or $2.97 per share.

A regulatory filing last week revealed Sprint’s intent to buy out Clearwire, though at that point Sprint was looking to spend around $2.1 billion, or $2.90 a share. Sprint will still offer up ton $800 million in interim financing to keep Clearwire afloat, until the deal is completely done.

The takeover still needs regulatory and Clearwire shareholder approval, and it’s contingent on Softbank’s 70 percent stake in Sprint being finalized. Both the Softbank and Clearwire deals are expected to close in the middle of 2013.

Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse, with his usual bluster, spoke highly of the deal:

Today’s transaction marks yet another significant step in Sprint’s improved competitive position and ability to offer customers better products, more choices and better services. Sprint is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Clearwire’s spectrum and efficiently deploy it to increase Sprint’s network capacity. We believe this transaction, particularly when leveraged with our SoftBank relationship, is further validation of our strategy and allows Sprint to control its network destiny.

Sprint initially took advantage of Clearwire’s 4G WiMax network with a partnership back in 2008, but that network doesn’t hold a candle to 4G LTE speeds today. Sprint spent $1.6 billion to bail out Clearwire last December, sold off its Clearwire majority voting rights in June, and then reclaimed its majority voting status in October for $100 million (after Softbank said it was paying Sprint $20.1 billion).

After all the back and forth, it was only a matter of time before Sprint finally took over Clearwire. But it remains to be seen if this merger will actually help Sprint, which has to compete with Verizon and AT&T’s more mature LTE networks.

Photo via William Ross/Flickr