Clearwire’s debt threat may be ‘ploy’ to win Sprint agreement

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Clearwire Corp. (CLWR)’s warning that it could skip a debt payment coming due on Dec. 1 may be a “ploy” to win financial support from partner Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) or another company.

Erik Prusch, Clearwire’s chief executive officer, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that it is evaluating whether to make the $237 million payment. He said the “very expensive payment” would be a “significant drain” on cash. Clearwire tumbled 21 percent to $1.47 yesterday.

The statement may be aimed at pressuring Sprint into extending a network-sharing agreement with Clearwire or at drawing out other potential partners, said John Fruit, manager of the Nuveen High Income Bond Fund. He called the comments “a near-term ploy” to get financial support.

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