Sprint followed through on its bid to buy the remaining portion of Clearwire that it doesn’t own, and will spend $2.2 billion or $2.97 per share to complete the deal, the operator announced Monday. The deal by Sprint, which already owned 51.7 percent of Clearwire, values the 4G provider at about $10 billion, including net debt and spectrum lease obligations of $5.5 billion.
Sprint’s bid offers a 128 percent premium over Clearwire’s closing share price right before Sprint confirmed it was talking to Softbank about an investment on October 11. And it’s slightly more than the $2.90 a share Sprint offered last week, according to a regulatory filing. Softbank’s decision to invest $20.1 billion to buy a 70 percent stake in Sprint provided Sprint with $8 billion in cash, making the deal possible.
Here’s what Sprint CEO Dan Hesse had to say:
Today’s transaction marks yet another significant step in Sprint’s improved competitive position and ability to offer customers better products, more choices and better services. Sprint is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Clearwire’s spectrum and efficiently deploy it to increase Sprint’s network capacity. We believe this transaction, particularly when leveraged with our SoftBank relationship, is further validation of our strategy and allows Sprint to control its network destiny.
As my colleague Stacey Higginbotham explained, the deal was all about expanding Sprint’s spectrum assets, which are critical as it competes with Verizon and AT&T. Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz airwaves are complementary to Sprint’s existing spectrum and should help it build out its LTE network:
For Sprint, which is building out an LTE network later than its rivals, capacity is key. The company is trying to free up as much spectrum as possible by getting some of its older Nextel subscribers off its older iDEN network technology. But with its investment in Clearwire, Sprint has access to many megahertz of spectrum –albeit in a band that’s not as ideal as the 700 Mhz and AWS bands that AT&T and Verizon own. Clearwire has more than 100 Mhz of spectrum in many of its markets. That’s roughly a third as much as AT&T and Verizon have in many of theirs.
Sprint has the unanimous approval of Clearwire’s board of directors as well as the blessing of Comcast Corp., Intel Corp and Bright House Networks LLC, who own approximately 13 percent of Clearwire’s voting shares. SoftBank also supports the deal, which is expected to close in mid-2013 along with the Softbank investment in Sprint.