Sprint seals Clearwire deal by upping offer to $2.2 billion

Sprint has reached an agreement to acquire the remainder of its longtime partner, Bellevue-based Clearwire, for $2.2 billion — an increase over its original offer of $2.1 billion but still below the price that some prominent Clearwire investors had been seeking.

Sprint, which already owns about 50 percent of Clearwire, will acquire the rest of the company under the deal. The agreement was approved unanimously by Clearwire’s board of directors, and the companies say Clearwire investors Comcast, Intel and Bright House have committed to support the deal. 

If the deal gets final approval, it’s the end of an era for Clearwire, which was founded by Seattle-area wireless industry pioneer Craig McCaw. Clearwire spent big to establish a 4G WiMAX network before shifting gears to build out support for the competing LTE standard.

In a news release announcing the agreement, Sprint said the terms represent a 128 percent premium over Clearwire’s closing share price prior to Oct. 11, when Clearwire’s shares rose significantly on news that Japan’s Softbank would be acquiring a 70 percent stake in Sprint.

Sprint’s acquisition of the remainder of Clearwire requires regulatory approval in addition to consent from shareholders. Sprint says the acquisition will enhance its spectrum and increase its competitiveness in the U.S. wireless industry.

Clearwire CEO and President Erik Prusch says in a news release, “Our board of directors has been reviewing available strategic alternatives over the course of the last two years. In evaluating available alternatives, a special committee conducted a careful and rigorous process, and based on the committee’s recommendation, our board unanimously determined that this transaction, which delivers certain and attractive value for our shareholders, is the best path forward.”