Stocks of Craig McCaw’s Kirkland-based Clearwire jumped 11 percent in early trading Monday on news that a Japanese company would buy 70 percent of Clearwire's mobile carrier partner Sprint Nextel Corp.
An Associated Press story in the Seattle Times called the $20 billion purchase by Softbank Corp. the largest overseas acquisition ever by a Japanese company. The deal still needs to be approved by U.S. regulators.
According to the story, the president of Softbank said that combined with Sprint the company will tie AT&T for world's No. 3 mobile carrier by revenue after China Mobile and Verizon. Masayoshi Son said the investment was made because the U.S. is the world's largest smart phone market and still growing.
Clearwire is a relatively small player in the mobile carrier market in terms of direct customers, but gains strength through its wholesale supply agreement with Sprint Nextel. The Wall Street Journal’s Morning Market Beat reported the jump in Clearwire stock.