Photo: Flickr/Esther Dyson
Google is dumping its entire stake in Clearwire, a wireless Internet service provider founded by cellular pioneer Craig McCaw.Google had invested $500 million in Clearwire in n 2008. Its 29,411,765 shares represent 6.5% of Clearwire’s Class A shares.
Google told its fellow investors that it intends to sell the stock for $1.60 a share or $47.1 million, coming out to a 94% discount.
The fellow stakeholders have first dibs on Clearwire and if they don’t bite, Google said it plans to sell its shares openly. That price would appear to hold only if it sells to one of the other larger holders.
Sprint, Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable also hold large stakes in Clearwire, with Sprint owning a 58%.
Google didn’t give a reason for dumping Clearwire, except to say that “Google periodically rebalances its investments based on its goals and its evaluation of market conditions.”
But the service provider has been hitting troubled waters in its efforts to finance its build out of a new 4G LTE mobile broadband network. The company warned last week that it may need to raise more capital to fund its operations beyond the end of the year and that it also wants to spend $600 million more toward its 4G build out. The company said that it expects that $600 million to come from Sprint as payment for unlimited access to its WiMax network this year.
Clearwire built the nation’s first 4G network on a technological standard known as WiMax, but WiMax didn’t catch on leaving Clearwire woefully behind and having to go back and move to LTE instead.
Clearwire is trading for about $2.15 today on NASDAQ.
Google, meanwhile, is close to closing its deal to buy Motorola, a big phone handset maker. It’s also making a play for the hardware market.