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Posts Tagged ‘LightSquared IPO’

3 reasons not to be excited about a LightSquared IPO … yet

It’s hard not to admire the gumption of hedge fund manager Philip Falcone. The billionaire has rolled the dice on what he foresees as the future of the Internet: a satellite-powered, nationwide 4G broadband wireless network called LightSquared. Who needs cable Internet, after all, when you can just grab a Web connection from outer space?

There’s just one problem: deploying “one of the largest commercial satellites ever launched” isn’t cheap. Falcone’s dumped half of his hedge fund’s $6 billion into the project so far, and he’s barely a third of the way toward launching his network. He’s walking the tightrope between brilliance and lunacy. And the public will soon get a chance to vote on the idea as Falcone’s shopping his LightSquared network around for a possible IPO, according to a recent Reuters report. Here are three reasons not to get too excited about a LightSquared IPO just yet:

1) Will work for food. Hedge fund manager Philip Falcone may be under pressure from clients to start generating some serious cash after last year’s lackluster performance. Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners fund shed 12 percent in 2010, Reuters reports, and the company still needs to raise $6 billion+ to get its network off the ground. A strong IPO would go a long way toward alleviating some of the pressure on the fund. A weak IPO just might crush the fund – and the company! – altogether.

2) Partners wanted. Despite inking deals with Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Leap Wireless International, Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAP), LightSquared will need the backing of a high-power telecom company to really have a shot at becoming viable. Until that happens, don’t expect other hedge fund managers to be pouring cash into LightSquared stock.

3) Death to GPS? Another fork in LightSquared’s business model: the company’s wireless spectrum might interfere with the GPS signals used by Garmin and other GPS companies. WCSH out of Portland reports that the U.S. Departments of Defense and Transportation have leaned on the FCC to ask LightSquared to study the interference issue. The FCC did just that and a report is due out in June. Until the issue’s cleared up, LightSquared won’t get the go-ahead to greenlight its network.

All negatives asides, though, I’m rooting for LightSquared. Broadband wireless access from the heart of Death Valley to the Florida Everglades is a tantalizing thought. It’s almost enough to make a man want to stake his company, his reputation and his fortune on the idea. … Wait, I guess that’s exactly what Falcone’s done. Only time will tell if he’s successful.

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