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Google this morning signaled its intent to sell its stake in Clearwire, the Bellevue-based wireless broadband company, seeking $1.60 a share for its up to 29.4 million shares of the company’s stock.

It’s a significant discount from Clearwire’s Thursday closing price of $2.26, but more notably, the potential return of $47 million represents a big loss for Google on its original $500 million investment in the company.

Clearwire shares are down about 6 percent this morning on the news.

The company originally made a huge investment in the 4G WiMAX technology only to see LTE become the preferred standard among the major wireless carriers. A week ago, Clearwire told its investors that it will need to raise more cash to keep its business afloat over the long term as it transitions to LTE.

Google gave no specific reason for the decision, saying in a regulatory filing that it “periodically rebalances its investments based on its goals and its evaluation of market conditions.” Intel Capital reduced its stake in Clearwire last year, but remains an owner.

Other investors in Clearwire include Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Those large investors will have an opportunity to buy Google’s shares before the search company offers them on the open market.

[Via The Verge and Bloomberg News. More at TechMeme.]

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