Google Inc., an early investor in Clearwire Corp., said it would seek to sell its entire stake in the wholesale mobile broadband provider at a loss of nearly $453 million.
Google is looking to sell its 29.4 million Class A shares for $1.60 each, or $47.1 million, representing a 91% discount from its initial investment in Clearwire in 2008. The Internet search company said in a securities filing on Friday that it would offer its 6.5% stake to other Clearwire investors beginning Monday before offering them to the general public after five days.
“Google periodically rebalances its investments based on its goals and its evaluation of market conditions,” the company said in its filing, without providing more details. Representatives from Google and Clearwire declined to comment. Shares of Bellevue, Wash.-based Clearwire recently dropped 5.1% to $2.15 .
Clearwire last week cautioned it may need to raise more capital to fund its operations beyond year end and said it could no longer offer debt secured by its valuable network assets. It plans to spend $600 million towards building a new fourth-generation mobile broadband network known as Long-Term Evolution over the next two years.
Founded in 2003 by cellular pioneer Craig McCaw, Clearwire was restructured in 2008 as part of a deal that combined the company with former Sprint Nextel Corp. operations and included the first cash infusion from Sprint and partners that included Comcast Corp., Intel Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC. Clearwire built the nation’s first 4G network on a technological standard known as WiMax and is Sprint’s provider of the zippier data service. A spokesman for Sprint, which holds a 49% voting stake in the company, declined to comment.
The cable companies may also leave Clearwire soon as they appear to be retreating from offering wireless services. The companies recently reached an accord to sell Verizon Wireless a block of wireless airwaves, or spectrum, for about $3.9 billion and to resell the carrier’s services in their stores.