Clearwire: What’s Changing And What’s Not With The Close Of The Sprint Nextel Merger


imageClearwire had a lot to be thankful for last week when it announced that its six-month-long process of merging with Sprint (NYSE: S) Nextel was completed on the day after Thanksgiving. Today, the company provided details on the close, including its plans for the upcoming months as the company integrates the two operations, and focuses on rapidly deploying WiMax in new markets. Ben Wolff, who will continue to head the company as CEO, ran down a list of what’s changing and what’s staying the same during a conference call with the media today. Of particular note was the company’s move to a new brand, a new management team and board of directors and new view on the WiMax vs. LTE debate. Press Release. Conference call.

Here are some of those things:

Investors: Despite the turmoil in the economy, Clearwire said it is still receiving the $3.2 billion investment Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), Intel (NSDQ: INTC) through Intel Capital, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable, Google (NSDQ: GOOG), and Bright House Networks, and John Stanton’s Trilogy Equity Partners. As a group, these investors will own 22 percent of Clearwire, and Sprint will own 51 percent. Comcast invested $1.05 billion, Intel Capital invested $1 billion in addition to its previous investments made in Clearwire, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) invested $550 million, Google invested $500 million, and Bright House Networks invested $100 million, for an aggregate total of $3.2 billion. In the coming months, Trilogy will invest $10 million.

Branding: The company is also announced today that the new name will remain Clearwire, but the brand going forward will be “Clear,” with the tagline “Let’s Be Clear.” Clearwire’s existing pre-WiMax markets will continue to be branded under the Clearwire name, while the WiMax markets will take the new name. Sprint’s former Xohm brand will eventually go away.

New Management and Board: The management team will be: Ben Wolff, CEO; Perry Satterlee, COO; Barry West, who served as Sprint’s CTO and XOHM business unit leader, is now president and chief architect; and Atish Gude, formerly SVP of Sprint’s XOHM mobile broadband operations, is now senior VP and CMO of Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR). Clearwire’s board will initially have eight members, including Clearwire’s founder Craig McCaw; Dan Hesse, Sprint’s CEO; Keith Cowan, Sprint’s president, strategy and corporate development; John Stanton, chairman and CEO of Trilogy Equity Partners; Sean Maloney, EVP, chief sales and marketing officer of Intel; Frank Ianna, former president of network services for AT&T; Jose A. Collazo, former head of BT (NYSE: BT) Global Services and former chairman; and Dennis Hersch, former global chairman of mergers and acquisitions for JP Morgan. An additional five seats on the board are expected to be filled soon.

WiMax Vs. LTE: The company has been committed to WiMax, and points to more than 80 deployments worldwide. But Wolff said today that they cannot “ignore the fact that other operators are saying they will deploy LTE. How many will actually do so, remains to be seen…” He said that they can’t assume that LTE will not gain traction, and that most important to Clearwire is providing what customers want. So, going forward they will build a network that could easily be transitioned to LTE if that makes sense. “We are taking steps to ensure that it

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