Clearwire investor loses bid for fast-track trial versus Sprint deal

NEW YORK Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:44am IST

People walk past a Sprint store in New York December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

People walk past a Sprint store in New York December 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Delaware judge refused on Thursday to fast-track a shareholder class action lawsuit seeking to block Sprint Nextel Corp's (S.N) deal to buy wireless service company Clearwire Corp CLWR.O, people familiar with the situation said.

The lawsuit by Crest Financial Ltd, Clearwire's largest shareholder after Sprint, accuses Clearwire's board of accepting a low-ball offer of $2.97 a share. Crest's general counsel said last week he hoped for a full trial in April to try to stop the deal.

At a hearing on Thursday, which was closed to the public, Crest asked Delaware Court of Chancery judge Leo Strine to approve a motion to expedite and to put the case on a schedule for a full trial in the coming months.

Strine denied that motion, but left open the possibility that Crest could refile it with a different focus, according to people person familiar with the hearing.

Crest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat said his company was pleased with the decision.

Shareholder lawsuits such as Crest's generally do not get to a trial sooner than eight months or a year. If the deal closes before then, Crest would likely be able to press for damages against Clearwire's board of directors.

On Tuesday, pay TV company Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) topped Sprint's offer with its own, at $3.30 per share. Clearwire said it was looking forward to getting details about Dish's offer.

(Reporting by Tom Hals. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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