Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, offered to acquire some of Clearwire’s airwave licenses in major cities, according to people familiar with the proposal.
Verizon is the unnamed “strategic buyer” that Clearwire disclosed last week in a regulatory filing, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The company, which Clearwire called Party J, made an offer on April 8 of $1 billion to $1.5 billion, minus the present value of airwave leases, “which could be substantial,” Clearwire said in the filing.
Verizon’s interest adds another wrinkle to Sprint Nextel Corp.’s takeover offer for Bellevue, Washington-based Clearwire. Sprint owns a slight majority of Clearwire’s shares, and is seeking to gain those same airwave licenses by buying out other investors for $2.97 a share.
Dish Network Corp., which already has a competing bid of $3.30 a share for Clearwire, further complicated matters today by announcing an unsolicited $25.5 billion offer for Sprint. Dish is trying to wrestle Sprint away from Softbank Corp., Japan’s third-largest wireless carrier. Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, agreed in October to accept $20 billion for the same 70 percent stake Dish wants.
Susan Johnston, a spokeswoman for Clearwire, and Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based Verizon Wireless, both declined to comment.
Clearwire’s board is also considering whether or not to make a June 1 interest payment, according to the filing last week. The company said it told two parties that had offered this month to lend money, Crest Financial Ltd. and Aurelius Capital Management LP, that it wasn’t prepared to accept their proposals.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Verizon made an offer for Clearwire spectrum.