Clearwire investors gain larger stake in company

Clearwire's chief investors have seen their stakes in the WiMAX service provider rise thanks the young company's tumbling share prices.

Clearwire's shares have taken a major hit over the past few months, and closed at $2.96 per share on Monday, The company's stock price has dropped 40 percent over the past three months. Those developments have led to the increase in stakes in the company, which currently operates WiMAX networks in Baltimore and Portland, Ore.

The company, which is 51 percent owned by Sprint Nextel, received $3.2 billion in capital from Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and others and merged with Sprint's WiMAX assets at the end of 2008.

Google said in a regulatory filing Monday that a clause had been triggered that gave it an additional 4.4 million shares in the company, bringing its total stake increase to more than 29 million shares. Google said this happened because Clearwire's stock price has been beneath a floor price of $17--underneath the $20-per-share purchase price used when Google made its investment last fall.

Additionally, Time Warner disclosed in a filing that it gained an additional equivalent of 4.8 million shares in Clearwire as a result of the clause, giving it more than 32 million shares.

A Clearwire spokeswoman said that investors' stakes were increased by a small percentage and that the increase was different for each investor. Google had a $355 million write-down because of its Clearwire investment in the fourth quarter. Intel took a $950 million non-cash charge in the fourth quarter because of its Clearwire investment.

Sean Maloney, Intel's chief sales and marketing officer, said in a conference call in February that Clearwire had significant capital to "keep going for quite a while," and that the company had "a pretty fat piece of capital to go out and build the network." Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff has said publicly that the company needs an additional $2 billion in capital over the next few years to meet its aggressive buildout plans.

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