Clearwire May Be Contemplating Restructuring Its Debt


The rumors about Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) continue to swirl. The latest report from Bloomberg said Clearwire is talking with Blackstone Group about possibly restructuring its debt. The report cites two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, and said that debt restructuring is just one of several options the company is considering.

Clearwire spokeswoman Susan Johnston told Bloomberg that Clearwire hasn't retained Blackstone Group. Additionally, BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk wrote that he doubts that Clearwire is getting any advice from restructuring firms, particularly now that executive chairman John Stanton is overseeing the strategic direction of the firm and recently doubled his equity stake in the company by buying 2.7 million shares. "That doesn't sound like a guy about to restructure the company," Piecyk noted.

This recent report follows a similar one last week (also citing unnamed sources) that said Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) was in talks with Clearwire's other investors, including Comcast, about an investment plan in which it would purchase their the equity stakes and essentially take control of Clearwire. The report said the talks are preliminary and no deal is imminent. Other strategic investors of Clearwire include cable companies Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Interestingly, the report added that Cox Communications and Cablevision, two MSOs that do not resell Clearwire's service, are also part of the discussions with Sprint.

Clearwire recently said that it will deploy LTE-Advanced technology -- but that it must first receive at least $600 million in additional capital. Standard & Poor's has said Clearwire will run out of cash in 2012, and earlier this month the firm revised its outlook on Clearwire's debt to negative.

The Wall Street Journal also recently reported that Sprint is expected to make a substantial new investment in Clearwire, which may help clear up uncertainty over Clearwire's funding future. The funding would help Clearwire into 2013. Sprint is expected to detail more of its 4G strategy at an investor meeting Oct. 7.

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