Verizon has made a $1.5 billion bid for the spectrum owned by Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) according to news from the Wall Street Journal this morning. A major part of Clearwire is owned by Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) which has itself been the subject of more than one buyout offer.
Clearwire Corporation (NASAQ:CLWR) operates a fourth generation wireless data service in the United States. The company has been partnered with Sprint Nextel Corporation for several years, and speculation that Sprint would acquire Clearwire reached a fever pitch last year, after ti was revealed that Sprint was to be acquired by Japanese firm Softbank.
The news that Verizon is attempting to obtain the company’s 4G spectrum is another example of consolidation in North American wireless markets and the value of data spectrum to companies operating in that business. Other moves in the market include the attempts by Dish Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH) to acquire Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), and the ongoing merger plans between T-Mobile and Metro PCS.
Today has been a busier than average day in the North American mobile market with twists coming on all three deals. Last December Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) revealed that it had reached an agreement to purchase the outstanding shares in Clearwire Corporation for $2.2 billion. In order to finalize that deal, Sprint would need cash from a takeover bid, from Softbank or from Dish Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH).
The Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) bid isn’t a merger offer, it’s a simple asset transfer. The company is offering the $1.5 billion for the Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) spectrum. Their bid does not require a merger with another company, Clearwire could presumably decide to take the money if it could get its board to agree.
The mobile market in the United States is changing. Small carriers are being pushed out as the market consolidates. It’s almost certain that Clearwire will not exist, or will be just a shell, in a year’s time. Its spectrum is valuable to anyone interested in the wireless market. The major players will pay whatever they have to in order to get their hands on that real estate.
The Wall Street Journal did not offer rooted speculation about the response of the Clearwire board to the Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) offer. Investors in any of the companies mentioned here should watch this space closely.