Sprint is in talks with Clearwire to acquire the 49% of the ailing mobile broadband operator it does not already own, according to CNBC.
Citing sources close to the matter, CNBC reports that the two companies are involved in “active negotiations” and could strike an agreement before the end of the year.
The same sources allegedly say that Sprint (Overland Park, USA) has been in discussions with a number of Clearwire’s shareholders – including Bright House (Syracuse, USA), Intel (Santa Clara, USA) and Comcast (Philadelphia) – regarding a stock purchase for about $3 per share.
Any deal, however, is likely to be complicated by the proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Sprint by Japan’s Softbank (Tokyo, Japan).
According to Reuters, some of Clearwire’s shareholders – including Mount Kellet Management Capital (New York, USA) and Crest Financial (Allentown, USA) – have also expressed concern about any deal with Sprint, believing the company should explore other options.
Clearwire (Bellevue, USA) is likely to run out of cash by the end of the third quarter of 2013 unless it can raise additional financing.
Meanwhile, it remains under pressure to invest in the LTE network technology now being used by its chief rivals.
The company has this year lost the support of some of its original backers, including web giant Google (Mountain View, USA), which sold its stake in March, and Time Warner Cable (New York, USA), which followed suit in September.
A takeover would allow Sprint to seize control of Clearwire’s abundant spectrum resources at a time when capacity constraints – caused by the surge in usage of mobile broadband services – are becoming a major concern for US operators.
Sprint added to its frequency holdings last month when it paid $480 million for licenses held by US Cellular (Chicago, USA).
Shares in Clearwire were trading at $2.76 on Wednesday morning, compared with a closing price of $2.40 on December 10, before the CNBC story had broken.