RealTime IT News

Sprint Raises EarthLink Investment to $1.1 Billion

EarthLink Network Inc. Tuesday announced that Sprint Corp. committed to top up its investment in the national Internet service provider following the completion of EarthLink's merger with MindSpring.

Sprint has agreed to purchase approximately 26 million shares from EarthLink for a total of approximately $431 million, bringing its overall investment in EarthLink to approximately 26.7 percent interest, or $1.1 billion.

Under the terms of the original EarthLink-Sprint alliance agreement, Sprint has the right to top and retain its original ownership position of 28.7 percent in EarthLink.

The completion of the $4 billion EarthLink-MindSpring merger early in February reduced the percentage of Sprint's ownership in EarthLink to 14.6 percent. Sprint had six months from the time the merger closed to exercise its top-up option by purchasing additional EarthLink stock from the company.

Apple Computer, Inc. completed a similar investment EarthLink to produce an iMac Internet access venture with the national ISP.

Garry Betty, EarthLink chief executive officer, said both the Sprint and April Apple investments in the company put the Internet operation on solid financial ground.

"Sprint's most recent investment of $77 million in EarthLink following our deal with Apple, coupled with its current investment of roughly $431 million, reaffirms Sprint's commitment to our strategic alliance," Betty said.

Sprint continues to retain two seats on EarthLink's board, occupied by William T. Esrey, Sprint chairman and chief executive officer, and Len J. Lauer, Sprint consumer services group president.