Clearwire Corp. board approves Sprint Nextel’s higher bid

Sprint headquarters in Overland Park.
Sprint headquarters in Overland Park. File photo by DAVID EULITT | The Kansas City Star

Clearwire Corp.’s board of directors has approved Sprint Nextel Corp.’s higher bid for the shares of its wireless partner that it doesn’t already own.

The approval of a $3.40-a-share bid followed the board’s previous approval of a $2.97-a-share deal.

A statement said the board determined Sprint’s offer is the “most favorable potential transaction” for the investors who own about 49 percent of Clearwire. Sprint’s ownership is a bit more than 50 percent, but Sprint needs approval from the other shareholders to complete its purchase of the company.

Sprint raised its offer just as the other Clearwire shareholders were set Tuesday to vote on the $2.97-a-share offer. Some shareholders had argued that the price was too low, and those complaints have landed on the $3.40 offer as well.

Crest Financial Ltd., the largest independent Clearwire owner, continued to argue that Clearwire should have a separate, competitive process to seek proposals.

Mount Kellett Capital Management LP, another Clearwire investor, forged an alliance with other shareholders earlier this month, hoping to coax Sprint into making a better offer.

The group, which includes Highside Capital Management LP, Glenview Capital Management LLC and Chesapeake Partners Management Co., remains opposed to the Sprint bid, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission after Sprint raised its offer.

Mount Kellett’s group accounts for more than 18 percent of Clearwire’s publicly traded shares.

Sprint’s failure to sway the Mount Kellett group could be an obstacle to the deal, said Kevin Roe, an analyst at Roe Equity Research.

“The opposing group stayed together,” Roe said. “They are the enabling block.”

Clearwire shares slipped 2 cents Wednesday, closing at $3.38.

Clearwire has set a vote on the higher offer for May 30.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.