Clearwire cool on Sprint bid; Softbank caps offer – report

Clearwire cool on Sprint bid; Softbank caps offer – report

14 DEC 2012

Sprint’s $2.90 per share offer to take full control of wholesale partner Clearwire looks set to be resisted by Clearwire’s shareholders, while Sprint’s potential new parent, Softbank, has reportedly set a cap on how much it should pay.

Sprint’s offer for the 48.3 percent of Clearwire that it does not already own, worth about $2.1 billion, values the firm at around $4.2 billion. It has also agreed to provide $800 million in interim financing.

But any agreement needs the green light from Softbank, the Japanese operator that is currently in the process of acquiring 70 percent of Sprint – and the Clearwire buyout is contingent on that deal going through.

According to Reuters, a group of minority Clearwire shareholders that hold about 7.6 percent of the company criticised the Sprint offer last night, saying it should be bumped up to at least $5 per share. Holders of at least 24.8 percent of Clearwire’s outstanding stock, other than Sprint, need to approve the deal.

One anonymous shareholder said that an offer in the $5 to $8 range was more realistic. “This deal should happen. It’s good for Clearwire, it’s good for Sprint [but] $2.90 is not the right price,” the source told Reuters.

“With a year of liquidity on the books and the alternative of raising additional equity or refinancing debt at this level, Clearwire is hardly without options, and we don’t see why the company would necessarily jump at the $2.90 bid,” JP Morgan analyst Philip Cusick said in a research note.

But – according to other sources – Softbank has told Sprint that it would not consent to any Clearwire bid higher than $2.97 per share, the price paid by Sprint when it took its Clearwire shareholding above the 50 percent threshold in October.