Verizon Wireless has reportedly offered to buy certain spectrum rights from Clearwire Corp. for up to $1.5 billion.
Clearwire Corp. has agreed to be bought out by majority shareholder Sprint Nextel Corp. Sprint has, in turn, agreed to sell 70 percent of itself to Japan's Softbank Corp. On Monday, another bidder emerged for Sprint: satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corp.
It is unclear what that could mean in light of either Dish Network’s or Softbank’s dueling bids for Sprint. Clearwire’s 4G network and spectrum holdings might be of strategic value to either, but on the other hand Verizon’s money could shave a sliver off the cost of acquiring Sprint.
Clearwire, which operates a wireless broadband network and supplies Sprint Nextel Corp. with its "4G" service, revealed in a regulatory filing Friday that it was approached a week ago by an unnamed "strategic buyer" that offered $1 billion to $1.5 billion for spectrum leases covering major cities. The price would be reduced by the accounting value of the leases.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the interested buyer is Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless declined to comment.
A purchase of spectrum by Verizon Wireless could face regulatory hurdles, since Verizon is already the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S. Regulators would like to see smaller wireless companies getting more spectrum to help them compete.
Clearwire, which is based in Kirkland, Wash., is strapped for cash. Its shares fell 8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.17 in Monday morning trading.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.