News Column

Sprint Makes Strides on Merger News

March 28, 2013

Mark Davis, The Kansas City Star

Sprint

Shares of Sprint Nextel Corp. jumped 2 percent on reports of advances in its deals with SoftBank Corp. and Clearwire Corp.

SoftBank is the Tokyo-based company that has agreed to buy 70 percent of Sprint for $20 billion. Sprint's proposed acquisition of Clearwire is part of the SoftBank merger.

Sprint shares were up 12 cents, or 2 percent, at $6.16 in morning trading.

Bloomberg News reported that a Michigan Congressman said Sprint pledged not to use equipment from China-based manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Huawei is a supplier to SoftBank in Japan and has drawn U.S. scrutiny over concerns about possible electronic spying.

The agreement could eliminate some government concerns about the deal that faces review from several federal agencies.

"I have met with SoftBank and Sprint regarding this merger and was assured they would not integrate Huawei into the Sprint network and would take mitigation efforts to replace Huawei equipment in the Clearwire network," U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, told Bloomberg in an e-mail.

"I expect them to make the same assurances before any approval of the deal" by U.S. agencies reviewing the mergers, Rogers told Bloomberg.

The committee previously issued a report that said the federal government should prevent deals that would include Huawei and ZTE Corp. equipment. The companies are the largest telecom equipment manufacturers in China. The report had said the companies' equipment can provide an opening for Chinese intelligence services to use U.S. telecommunications networks for spying.

Separately, Clearwire said in a public filing this morning that it will draw again on a financing program that is part of Sprint's bid for the 49 percent of Clearwire that Sprint doesn't already own.

The action provides Clearwire with $80 million for April under the terms of its agreement with Sprint.

Shareholders have not yet voted on the deal and Clearwire's directors said they continue to weigh an alternative offer from Dish Network Corp. Clearwire's board has recommended shareholders approve Sprint's deal, and it has not changed that recommendation.

By drawing on the financing, Clearwire gives Sprint notes that it can later exchange for stock in Clearwire at the rate of $1.50 per share under some conditions.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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(c)2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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