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Clearwire, On the Ropes, May Skip Massive Debt Payment

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Nov 18, 2011, 3:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Clearwire is weighing whether or not to make a $237 million debt payment it has due December 1. The company has approximately $700 million in liquid assets at the moment, and is still scrambling to find alternate sources of funding to continue to operate its WiMax network. "It's a very expensive payment that we have," Chief Executive Erik Prusch said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It would be a significant drain of our cash, so we have to evaluate everything in terms of our decision of where we're going." If Clearwire decides to skip making the payment, it has a 30-day grace period to make up for it. It isn't clear how long Clearwire can continue to run its network with its current cash reserve. Sprint recently raised about $4 billion by selling notes due in 2021 and 2018. Sprint said it may use some of the proceeds of the note sale to fund Clearwire, but it has not fully committed to doing so. Clearwire has not been able to launch any major new WiMax markets this year, and has recently ceased offering post-paid services.

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