Clearwire shares fall on Google stake sale

NEW YORK – Clearwire Corp. shares fell 6 percent on Friday after Google Inc. said it would sell its stake in the company.

An analyst said that Google’s sale of the shares at a discount could be followed by other investors ditching their shares in the wireless service provider.

Google would reap just over $47 million from the sale of the shares, implying a massive loss of $453 million for Google, which invested $500 million in Clearwire in 2008. Google has already taken impairment charges of $443 million in recent years related to the investment.

Cable operators, including Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable, also have invested in Clearwire, which is majority owned by Sprint Nextel.

Since the cable operators have recently entered an agreement to resell mobile services from Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile service, the concern is that they will also sell their stakes in Clearwire. Before the Verizon deal the cable operators depended on Clearwire as their wholesale provider.

“With no strategic reason to hold Clearwire shares, these ownership stakes could also make their way into the market,” said Evercore analyst Jonathan Schildkraut.

Time Warner Cable said it does not have any immediate plans to sell its stake in Clearwire.

A representative for Comcast were not immediately available for comment.

According to a document filed with regulators on Friday, Google said it would sell the 29.4 million shares it holds in Clearwire for $1.60 per share to Clearwire’s other strategic investors, which include Intel Corp. or on Nasdaq.