Sprint Nextel has admitted that it no longer holds a majority economic stake in WiMAX-turned-Long Term Evolution (LTE) operator Clearwire, signifying the first time in many years that its economic interest in the company has fallen below 50%. Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat told FierceWireless that its ‘economic percentage dropped below 50% as a result of Clearwire issuing additional shares’. Sloat added that because Clearwire is in the midst of issuing new equity, he does not know his firm’s precise stake, but did confirm that Sprint’s voting interest and economic interest are now aligned once more. Last year Sprint reduced its voting shares in the company to below 50% in order to avoid any risk of a default trigger on its own debt obligations at a time when Clearwire faced a possible loan default. Although Clearwire raised the prospect of a technical default last December, the concerns were not realised, and the company went on to strike a new series of funding and network agreements with Sprint worth USD1.6 billion over several years. For its part, Clearwire spokesman Mike DiGioia commented: ‘Our relationship with them has not changed. We continue to work closely with them on the deployment of our LTE network. We value their position as our largest shareholder and largest wholesale partner’.