US mobile broadband operator Clearwire reported a narrower fourth-quarter loss of $187 million, compared with $237 million in the same period last year, but revenues slid 14%, to $311 million.
The company is currently the target of a $2.2 billion takeover attempt by Sprint (Overland Park, USA), which already owns 50% of the company, but has also attracted the interest of satellite operator Dish Networks (Meridian, USA), which has proposed to buy it at a higher price.
The Clearwire (Bellevue, USA) board is said to be negotiating with both companies while favouring a deal with Sprint, but management refused to provide details of the takeover talks during the results presentation.
Clearwire’s cash reserves have fallen to $868.6 million, from about $1.2 billion in September 2012, due to interest payments as well as capital and operating expenditure.
Capital expenditure soared to $102 million in the fourth quarter, from just $34 million in the third quarter and $23 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, as Clearwire ramped up investments in its LTE network, which is ultimately intended to replace the WiMax system it currently maintains.
The company aims to have 2,000 LTE cells sites up and running by the end of June and 5,000 in operation by the end of the year.
It blamed the revenue decline on a fall in wholesale business and lost some 915,000 wholesale customers during the quarter –leaving it with 8.2 million in total – mainly because of a decision by Sprint to stop offering WiMax services to contract customers.
Clearwire also lost 9,000 retail subscribers in the fourth quarter, leaving it with 1.4 million altogether.
“Our full-year 2012 results demonstrate our continued focus on reducing costs, managing revenues and liquidity and providing exceptional service to our customers during a transition period as we build an LTE network equipped to provide wireless consumers the speeds and capacity they desire,” said Erik Prusch, the president and chief executive of Clearwire, in a statement.