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The Hedge Fund Report: Sprinting to the Finish Line

Sometimes, speculation is just about sitting still and waiting for history to repeat. That seems to be the view of several hedge funds positioned to reap the benefits of Sprint Nextel's (S) buying spree.

New York-based hedge fund Glenview Capital Management was among the winners on Nov. 21, when shares of Alamosa Holdings (APCS) jumped up 13% to $18.35 on the announcement that Sprint Nextel would buy the wireless affiliate for $3.4 billion.. It was the fourth acquisition of an affiliate by Sprint since its merger last summer with Nextel.

A hedge fund manager who owns Alamosa says that the market is betting that the buying spree will continue.

Sprint's acquisition of Alamosa was the fourth time the wireless company bought one of its affiliates since its merger with Nextel this summer. The deal followed the purchases of U.S. Unwired, IWO Holdings and Gulf Coast Wireless. Sprint Nextel is doing the deals as a way to resolve litigation, as Sprint has been sued by several of its affiliates for alleged violations on noncompete agreements. Alamosa, for instance, had filed a lawsuit against Sprint Nextel regarding some exclusivity covenants; the acquisition will solve the problem.

According to a June regulatory report, Glenview owned 162 million Alamosa shares, or 8.6% of the company. It reached the 5% threshold in December of last year, but it has been a shareholder for several years, acquiring many of the shares when Alamosa acquired AirGate.

Other large hedge funds were long the stock as well. D.E. Shaw owned 2.9 million shares, or a 1.78% position, while SAC Capital Advisors had 2.7 million shares, or a 1.66% stake, at the end of the third quarter.

So what's next? The market senses gains elsewhere. On Nov. 21, shares of UbiquiTel (UPCS), another Sprint's affiliate, jumped to a 52-week high to $9.77. Nextel Partners (NXTP), another affiliate, which remains at odds with Sprint over the price of an acquisition, has also been a subject of hedge fund speculation.

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