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Clearwire shareholder wants FCC to block Sprint deals

Clearwire Corp. investor Crest Financial said the Federal Communications Commission should block Sprint Nextel Corp.’s takeover of the company, as well as a separate deal between Sprint and Softbank Corp.

Crest Financial said the deals undermined the value of Clearwire’s airwaves.

The firm plans to file its complaint with the FCC before the Jan. 28 comment deadline on the two deals, said David Schumacher, general counsel for Houston-based Crest Financial. He spoke on a conference call with reporters Friday.

“Crest is optimistic that the FCC will take a close look at the transaction,” he said. “By artificially pushing down the price of Clearwire spectrum, Sprint and Clearwire threaten to devalue future government auctions of spectrum.”

Crest filed a shareholder lawsuit last month to stop Softbank’s $20 billion deal to acquire 70 percent of Overland Park-based Sprint, saying it undervalued Clearwire, which is majority-owned by Sprint. After the Softbank deal was announced in October, Sprint moved to acquire the rest of Clearwire for $2.97 a share last month. Clearwire’s board signed off on the transaction.

Mike DiGioia, a spokesman for Clearwire, declined to comment on Crest’s remarks. Scott Sloat, a spokesman for Sprint, and Justin Cole at the FCC in Washington could not be reached for comment.

Sprint decided to acquire 100 percent of Clearwire after their four-year joint venture struggled to build a nationwide wireless network, leading to billions in losses for Clearwire. Sprint aims to take over Clearwire’s spectrum — the airwaves that let mobile devices operate — and use it to bolster its own network. Sprint chief executive officer Dan Hesse said last month that the deal was “critical” to turnaround efforts at the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier.

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