Sprint Nextel shares surged more than 18%, or $1.49 a share, Tuesday after a report on cable news network CNBC that the wireless carrier was in talks to be acquired by South Korean wireless company SK Telecom.
Sprint shares rose as high as $9.75 per share (up $1.49 each or 18%) before closing Tuesday at $9.04 each, up 9.4%, or 78 cents per share. According to the CNBC report, SK Telecom would team up with a private equity partner to buy Sprint Nextel. But CNBC stressed that the talks are in the early stages and that no deal is imminent.
Sprint Nextel, which entered into a WiMax joint venture with three cable operators, Intel, Google and Clearwire Communications earlier this year, has been plagued by subscriber losses. An earlier partnership with five cable companies called Pivot, fizzled in April.
SK Telecom has about 22 million customers in South Korea, and controls roughly half of that country’s wireless market.