Sprint, Cable Companies Plotting Clearwire Buyout: Report

Citing three people familiar with the talks, Bloomberg on Friday reported that Sprint is discussing further investment in Clearwire with the help of major cable providers like Comcast, some of which invest in Clearwire already.

The rumor was enough to send Clearwire shares skyward Friday, rising 30 percent for the biggest single-day gain for Clearwire's stock since 2007.

One of the scenarios under discussion, according to Bloomberg's sources, has Sprint fully acquiring the rest of Clearwire it doesn't already own. Along with Comcast, Cablevision and Cox Communications have spoken with Sprint about the plans, according to Bloomberg.

Sprint currently owns 54 percent of Clearwire. Were it to combine with cable companies to take control of Clearwire fully, the move would increase Sprint's stake in the market for 4G technologies, as well as provide all of the allegedly involved parties with more options to compete with AT&T and Verizon for connectivity services.

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Sprint itself is threatened by the proposed merger of AT&T with T-Mobile USA -- a combination that would reduce Sprint to a distant third among major U.S. carriers -- and has also been upping its investments in 4G infrastructure.

In late July, Sprint confirmed a 15-year agreement with LightSquared through which LightSquared will pay Sprint to deploy and operate a nationwide LTE network that hosts spectrum licensed to or available to LightSquared.

Clearwire is losing money, but is planning to spend $600 million to upgrade to Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology. Clearwire earlier this month said it would add "LTE Advanced-ready" technology to its network following a successful completion of 4G technology trials boasting download speeds faster than 120 Mbps. It's a formal change for Clearwire, which was first to market with a 4G WiMax network in 2008, but is now challenged by LTE network investments made by Verizon and AT&T, as well as the broader industry option of LTE over WiMax.

Clearwire in the past year has seen significant changes in its C-suite. Last week, it named Erik Prusch, its chief operating officer, to the role of president and CEO, replacing John Stanton, interim CEO and Clearwire's chairman. Former Clearwire CEO William Morrow resigned in May, and Stanton replaced former Clearwire chairman Craig McCaw in January.