Late last week, Sprint Nextel disclosed in a submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission its intention to purchase a sufficient amount of stock in Clearwire Corp. to boost its current 48% holding in that venture into a majority voting interest of 50.8%. Following on the heels of Softbank’s $20.1 billion plan to acquire 70% of Sprint, the Clearwire deal encompasses 31 million Class A and 2.7 million Class B Clearwire shares that are held by Eagle River Holdings, an investment firm owned by cellular pioneer Craig McCaw. Although Sprint has agreed to buy all of the stock in question at a price of $2.97 per share, provisions of an agreement between the equity shareholders of Clearwire give other major stakeholders such as Comcast, Intel Corp. and Bright House Networks the right to subscribe for the shares being sold by Eagle River within 30 days. Noting that the planned stock purchase firmly links financiallystrapped Clearwire with “a more well-funded Sprint” as Sprint pursues its planned union with Softbank, one analyst touted the stock acquisition as one that gives Sprint control of Clearwire along with Clearwire’s network and spectrum “without having to pay a premium to acquire 100% of the asset.” (However, to win full operational control of Clearwire, Sprint would also need to gain 10 of the 13 seats on the Clearwire board.) Other analysts predicted that the Clearwire agreement will factor favorably into FCC and Justice Department review of the Softbank deal as Softbank’s acquisition of assets held by both Sprint and Clearwire could make the post-merger Sprint a stronger competitor against wireless market leaders Verizon and AT&T. Nevertheless, an official of AT&T pointed out that Softbank’s control of Sprint and Clearwire “will give one of Japan’s largest wireless companies control of significantly more U.S. wireless spectrum than any other company.” Advising the FCC to proceed with caution, AT&T Vice President Brad Burns told reporters: “we expect that fact and others will be fully explored in the regulatory review process.”