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Credit Suisse Snaps Up Google's Clearwire Stake

By John Letzing and Greg Bensinger Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) has purchased Google Inc.'s (GOOG) stake in wireless broadband provider Clearwire Corp. (CLWR), according to people familiar with the matter. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google disclosed earlier this week that it had sold its 29.4 million shares of Clearwire for $2.26 apiece, or $66.5 million, to an undisclosed buyer. That sale price represents a steep discount to the $500 million originally paid by Google for the Clearwire stake in 2008. Still, it was better than the $1.60 per share Google had said last month it would seek for the holding. A Credit Suisse spokesman declined to comment. It isn't uncommon for institutions such as Credit Suisse to buy blocks of shares as part of large trades, and then sell them to other parties. Bellevue, Wash.-based Clearwire cautioned last month it may need to raise more capital to fund its operations beyond the end of the year, and said it could no longer offer debt secured by its valuable network assets. The company plans to spend $600 million toward building a new, fourth-generation mobile broadband network known as Long-Term Evolution over the next two years. But Clearwire has also said it is poised to lose as much as 5% of its Clear brand growth as Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) halt sales of the service in favor of those offered by Verizon Wireless. Google isn't the only technology company to have invested in Clearwire. Intel Corp. (INTC) is a Clearwire backer, though the semiconductor maker has also been reducing its stake. Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) is Clearwire's majority owner. Clearwire was founded by Craig McCaw, an industry veteran widely credited with helping to popularize the use of mobile phones decades ago. Shares of Clearwire closed Wednesday up 4.8% to $2.18. Shares fell 4.4% over the last three months. -By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; john.letzing@dowjones.com

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