Time Warner Cable says it will unload its investment in Clearwire by selling its 46.4 million shares, valued at roughly $65 million based on the current market value of Clearwire’s stock, which tumbled on the news. Time Warner owns 7.8% of Clearwire. Other investors include Sprint Nextel and Intel; either of these partners could buy part or all of Time Warner’s stake.
Time Warner Cable paid $550 million for its Clearwire stake back in 2008, when Sprint Nextel and Clearwire merged their WiMAX operations under the Clearwire brand. In the years since, LTE has eclipsed WiMAX and Time Warner has won FCC approval to market Verizon Wireless’s LTE services, along with a group of other cable companies.
Comcast, one of the other cable companies working with Verizon, owns an even bigger Clearwire stake than Time Warner does. So far, Comcast has made no annoucements about what it intends to do with its 89 million Clearwire shares.
Earlier this year it appeared that Clearwire might benefit from the FCC’s decision not to license spectrum to LightSquared. Wireless broadband startup FreedomPop agreed to buy network access from Clearwire in the wake of the FCC decision, and still says it will launch its free mobile broadband service on Clearwire’s network. But FreedomPop says it will eventually transition to Sprint Nextel’s LTE network.
While the outlook for WiMAX is cloudy at best, there have been some recent signs of life for Clearwire. Last week Clearwire announced that it will sell network access to Internet services provider Earthlink, which plans to start offering mobile broadband services next year.
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