NEW YORK — Verizon Wireless has reportedly offered to buy spectrum rights from Clearwire for up to $1.5 billion.
Bellevue-based Clearwire, which operates a wireless broadband network and supplies Sprint Nextel with its “4G” service, revealed in a regulatory filing Friday that it was approached a week ago by an unnamed “strategic buyer” that offered $1 billion to $1.5 billion for spectrum leases covering major cities. The price would be reduced by the accounting value of the leases.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the interested buyer is Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless declined to comment.
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Clearwire has agreed to be bought out by majority shareholder Sprint Nextel. Sprint has, in turn, agreed to sell 70 percent of itself to Japan’s Softbank. On Monday, another bidder emerged for Sprint: satellite broadcaster Dish Network.
A purchase of spectrum by Verizon Wireless could face regulatory hurdles, since Verizon is already the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S. Regulators would like to see smaller wireless companies getting more spectrum to help them compete.
Clearwire is strapped for cash. Its shares fell 8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.17 in Monday morning trading.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of New York-based Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group of Britain.