Clearwire Board Member Wolff Resigns

10/28/11Follow @curtwoodward

Benjamin Wolff, a former CEO of Clearwire and close ally of company founder Craig McCaw, has resigned from the troubled wireless company’s board. Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) reported the change in a filing with federal regulators on Friday, saying Wolff’s “decision to resign is not due to any disagreements with the company.”

McCaw’s investment firm, Eagle River Holdings, is expected to appoint a board member to fill Wolff’s slot. Clearwire shares were down about 1 percent in after-hours trading.

The board change is another sign of turmoil for Kirkland, WA-based Clearwire, which is losing money, carrying lots of debt, and looking for hundreds of millions of dollars to switch from its current WiMax-based network to one based on long-term evolution, or LTE technology.

Majority stockholder Sprint (NYSE: S) has been contributing to swings in Clearwire’s stock price recently with public statements that put the companies’ working relationship into further question. Sprint initially announced that it was moving ahead with a fourth-generation network plan that didn’t include Clearwire, and CEO Dan Hesse downplayed the negative effects of a possible Clearwire bankruptcy when questioned by investors.

That sent Clearwire’s stock plummeting. But earlier this week, Sprint said it was working on an agreement with Clearwire that could pave the way for Sprint to buy into a new Clearwire network. That buoyed the stock, as did Clearwire’s early release of some third-quarter financials that showed a narrowing loss. Clearwire is scheduled to release its full quarterly earnings report Nov. 2.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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