29% of Clearwire minority shareholders opposed to Sprint takeover

21 Jan 2013

Investors holding around 29% of the outstanding minority shares in Clearwire have indicated that they are unhappy with majority owner Sprint Nextel’s USD2.2 billion buyout offer for the wireless broadband specialist, Reuters reports. As previously announced, on 17 December 2012 a special committee of the board consisting of ‘disinterested directors not appointed by Sprint’ unanimously approved Sprint’s approach to acquire the almost 50% stake in Clearwire that it does not already own, for USD2.97 per share. However, negotiations have been complicated by a rival bid from satellite TV giant DISH Network – which seeks to acquire all of Clearwire’s common stock for USD3.30 per share – subject to minimum ownership of at least 25% and the granting of certain governance rights.

Parties opposed to the deal include Crest Financial, which holds an 8% stake in Clearwire, Mount Kellett (7.3%) and Taran Asset Management (unknown). An investment manager, who asked not to be named due to his/her firm’s policy on media comments, told Reuters: ‘If somebody was on the fence about saying no to Sprint, they are not on the fence anymore. Anybody who thinks USD2.97 is a full and fair value has already exited’, before dismissing Sprint’s bid as ‘dead on arrival’. In Sprint’s favour, fellow shareholders Comcast and Intel Corp have agreed to sell their respective stakes for USD2.97 a share, even if other investors reject the telco’s offer. Cableco Comcast and Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor maker, bought into Clearwire back in 2008, alongside Sprint. Although the 29% of dissenting minority shareholders would not be enough to vote down the deal in itself, the public objections have underscored the growing disenchantment with Sprint’s original offer.

United States, Clearwire, DISH Network, Sprint Corporation (now part of T-Mobile US)