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Intel Looks Cozy with Clearwire

SAN FRANCISCO -- With gadgets taking center stage at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel (INTC - Get Report) is touting the wonders of WiMax -- the high-speed wireless network that the chipmaker envisions will connect everything from smartphones to mini-notebook PCs.

But while Intel's marketing folks diligently spread the WiMax word at CES, the company has been equally busy striking deals around the globe to ensure the wireless network - and its companion chips -- get off the ground.

Intel recently announced a deal to build a WiMax network in Moscow in collaboration with Comstar, and the company teamed up with Japan's KDDI in September.

Now there are signs that Intel may be readying another big WiMax deal, this time closer to home.

Two weeks ago, Arvind Sodhani, president of the company's Intel Capital venture arm, resigned his seat on the board of Clearwire (CLWR), a WiMax service provider in which Intel has a roughly 30% stake. The press release announcing the resignation explained that it was in order to "avoid any conflicts of interest that might arise."

That has raised speculation among analysts that a transaction in the works.

"It certainly seems like it's not in the very initial stages," says McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Sid Parakh of a potential deal by Intel.

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