Sprint Nextel is negotiating to gain control of Clearwire via agreements with its wireless broadband partner’s other investors, the Wall Street Journal reports. The talks would allow Sprint to gain control of Clearwire’s board without acquiring it. Gaining control of Clearwire is seen as crucial to Softbank’s planned $20 billion acquisition of Sprint. Clearwire investors include Craig McCaw’s Eagle River Holdings and Comcast Corp. Sprint owns 48% of Clearwire but doesn’t control the board. Sprint needs access to Clearwire’s significant spectrum rights, and Softbank lenders want assurance that Sprint will be able to control Clearwire.

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