Clearwire raises $291M in rights offering

Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) raised an additional $290.8 million in a rights offering, as the WiMAX service provider continues to barrel ahead with its network rollout plans.

The company started the rights offering in December, and it could have raised a total of $361 million, Clearwire said. The new funding comes on top of a total of around $2.8 billion Clearwire received through debt and equity financing in November.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) owns a majority stake in Clearwire, and is also a wholesale partner of the company. Clearwire currently has its mobile WiMAX service running in 34 markets, and plans to expand to 80 markets by the end of the year, covering 120 million POPs. Clearwire has said it will need between $2.8 billion and $3.2 billion this year to build out the network. The company also is working against the clock--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said it will launch LTE in 25-30 commercial markets in the fourth quarter, covering 100 million POPs.

Despite recent tremors in the WIMAX world--most notably Russian carrier Yota's announcement that it will switch to LTE--the ecosystem is doing well, according to research firm Maravedis. There were a total of 7.2 million global WiMAX subscribers in the first quarter, and total BWA/WiMAX revenues for 2009 were $3.03 billion, compared with $1.69 billion at the end of 2008.

"Carriers are worried about the perceived lack of commitment towards 802.16m," Maravedis analyst Adlane Fellah said in a statement, referring to the new WiMAX standard. "However, despite the hype surrounding TD-LTE, we do not see much of an ecosystem in the near term."

For more:
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this Puget Sound Business Journal article
- see this release

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