Crest makes last-ditch stand against Sprint’s Clearwire bid

Investment group Crest Financial has made a final plea to Clearwire shareholders not to support Sprint’s takeover of the wireless broadband operator just a day before their vote takes place.

In a letter sent to Clearwire (Bellevue, WA, USA) shareholders, Crest argues that a decision on Clearwire’s future owner should be delayed until Sprint’s own status is resolved.

Investment group Crest Financial has made a final plea to Clearwire shareholders not to support Sprint’s takeover of the wireless broadband operator just a day before their vote takes place.

In a letter sent to Clearwire (Bellevue, WA, USA) shareholders, Crest argues that a decision on Clearwire’s future owner should be delayed until Sprint’s own status is resolved.

The country’s third-biggest cellular operator, behind Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA) and AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA), Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA) is the target of takeover bids from Japan’s Softbank (Tokyo) and US satellite company Dish Network (Meridian, CO, USA).

Softbank has offered to buy a 70% stake in the operator for $20.1 billion, while Dish Network has offered to pay $25.5 billion for Sprint.

“Clearwire should not be locked up before the battle for control of Sprint is resolved,” Crest is reported to have said in its statement. “Letting Sprint gobble up Clearwire now would only transfer Clearwire’s value to Sprint.”

Describing itself as the biggest Clearwire shareholder unaligned with Sprint, Crest has been an outspoken critic Sprint’s attempt to gain full control of the business.

In previous statements on the issue, it has called the terms of Sprint’s offer “coercive” and urged shareholders to consider alternative financing arrangements for Clearwire, which needs to raise funds to finance its rollout of an LTE network.

Sprint, which already owns 50.8% of Clearwire, has offered to pay $2.2 billion for the remainder of the business and needs a majority of other Clearwire shareholders to back the deal.

In its latest statement, Crest suggests that Clearwire shareholders stand to get an improved offer if they wait until the outcome of the takeover battle for Sprint.

Days earlier, leading proxy advisory firm ISS said Clearwire shareholders should vote in favor of the proposed transaction with Sprint, but Glass Lewis – a rival firm – believes the Sprint case is weak and that shareholders should oppose the deal.

With a stake of about 5.1% in Clearwire, Crest has previously offered about $240 million in debt financing to Clearwire and said the operator should also consider an offer of about $80 million in debt financing from hedge fund Aurelius Capital Management.