A deal that will see Sprint acquire the remainder of Clearwire has been confirmed after news that a potential agreement was on the table surfaced last week. Sprint, already owning a majority stake in Clearwire, is set to buy the remaining 50 percent of the company for $2.2 billion.
It was initially reported that Sprint had made a bid of $2.1 billion, but the demands of Clearwire share owners and a rise in stock prices after whispers of the deal surfaced had the Now Network up their offer. The deal, which is still pending the necessary regulatory approvals, should be complete around the same time as SoftBank’s buyout of 70 percent of Sprint. That should be on the books by March or April of next year.
SoftBank has already signed off on the deal, as have Clearwire’s minority shareholders, including Comcast and Intel. Sprint will provide $800 million in funding for Clearwire while absorbing the company’s existing debt of $5.5 billion. Check out the PR below for more details.
Sprint to Acquire 100 Percent Ownership of Clearwire for $2.97 per Share
Transaction provides Clearwire shareholders with certain, fair and attractive value
Sprint uniquely positioned to leverage Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum assets
Transaction strengthens Sprint’s position and increases competitiveness in the U.S. wireless industry
Interim funding allows Clearwire to continue LTE build-out and complement Sprint’s LTE deployment
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. & BELLEVUE, Wash. (BUSINESS WIRE), December 17, 2012 – Sprint (NYSE:S) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the approximately 50 percent stake in Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) it does not currently own for $2.97 per share, equating to a total payment to Clearwire shareholders, other than Sprint, of $2.2 billion. This transaction results in a total Clearwire enterprise value of approximately $10 billion, including net debt and spectrum lease obligations of $5.5 billion.
The transaction consideration represents a 128 percent premium to Clearwire’s closing share price the day before the Sprint-SoftBank discussions were first confirmed in the marketplace on October 11, with Clearwire speculated to be a part of that transaction; and, a 40 percent premium to the closing price the day before receipt of Sprint’s initial $2.60 per share non-binding indication of interest on November 21.
Clearwire’s spectrum, when combined with Sprint’s, will provide Sprint with an enhanced spectrum portfolio that will strengthen its position and increase competitiveness in the U.S. wireless industry. Sprint’s Network Vision architecture should allow for better strategic alignment and the full utilization and integration of Clearwire’s complementary 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, while achieving operational efficiencies and improved service for customers as the spectrum and network is migrated to LTE standards.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said, “Today’s transaction marks yet another significant step in Sprint’s improved competitive position and ability to offer customers better products, more choices and better services. Sprint is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Clearwire’s spectrum and efficiently deploy it to increase Sprint’s network capacity. We believe this transaction, particularly when leveraged with our SoftBank relationship, is further validation of our strategy and allows Sprint to control its network destiny.”
The transaction was unanimously approved by Clearwire’s board of directors upon the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of the Clearwire board consisting of disinterested directors not appointed by Sprint. In addition, Clearwire has received commitments from Comcast Corp., Intel Corp and Bright House Networks LLC, who collectively own approximately 13 percent of Clearwire’s voting shares, to vote their shares in support of the transaction. SoftBank has provided its consent to the transaction, as required under the terms of its recently announced merger agreement with Sprint.
Clearwire CEO and President Erik Prusch said, “Our board of directors has been reviewing available strategic alternatives over the course of the last two years. In evaluating available alternatives, a special committee conducted a careful and rigorous process, and based on the committee’s recommendation, our board unanimously determined that this transaction, which delivers certain and attractive value for our shareholders, is the best path forward.”
In connection with the transaction, Clearwire and Sprint have entered into agreements that provide up to $800 million of additional financing for Clearwire in the form of exchangeable notes, which will be exchangeable under certain conditions for Clearwire common stock at $1.50 per share, subject to adjustment under certain conditions. Under the financing agreements, Sprint has agreed to purchase $80 million of exchangeable notes per month for up to ten months beginning in January, 2013, with some of the monthly purchases subject to certain funding conditions, including conditions relating to the approval of the proposed merger by Clearwire’s shareholders and a network build out plan.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and the approval of Clearwire’s stockholders, including the approval of a majority of Clearwire stockholders not affiliated with Sprint or SoftBank. The closing of the transaction is also contingent on the consummation of Sprint’s previously announced transaction with SoftBank. The Clearwire and SoftBank transactions are expected to close mid-2013.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc. acted as financial advisor to Sprint and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and King & Spalding LLP acted as counsel to Sprint. The Raine Group acted as financial advisor to SoftBank Corp. and Morrison Foerster LLP acted as counsel to SoftBank. Evercore Partners acted as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as counsel to Clearwire. Centerview Partners acted as financial advisor and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A. acted as counsel to Clearwire’s special committee. Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. advised Clearwire on restructuring matters. Credit Suisse acted as financial advisor and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP acted as counsel to Intel.
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served nearly 56 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2012 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries, during the last four years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in both its 2011 and 2012 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.