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Hedge-Funder Philip Falcone’s Big Wireless Bet Goes Bust

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Harbinger Capital founder Philip Falcone, who made billions betting against subprime mortgages during the housing crisis and adorned his fabulous wife Lisa in the finest furs and feathers, has been insisting for well over a year now that his apparent money problems were nothing to worry about. He had this brilliant idea, see, that he’d challenge Verizon and AT&T on the broadband wireless front with a company called LightSquared, in which Falcone invested about half of Harbinger’s $6 billion in assets. But today, as long seemed inevitable, the company filed for bankruptcy.

The FCC, which originally backed Falcone’s proposal, turned on him after “GPS users like John Deere and the United States military, lobbied regulators to keep the LightSquared network from becoming operational, fearing that it would interfere with their own,” the Times reports. (The Department of Defense usually gets its way on these things.) As a result, LightSquared has no way to pay back its creditors, like Boeing (owed $7.5 million), or a $322.3 term loan, and so Chapter 11 it is.

Bankruptcy, according to the company’s very optimistic CFO, “is intended to give LightSquared sufficient breathing room to continue working through the regulatory process that will allow us to build our 4G wireless network.” Falcone added, “We remain committed to our original mission, and I remain steadfast in my belief that a path forward exists that will satisfy and benefit all constituencies.” And whatever happens, Lisa “No Prenup” Falcone will always have the magazine spreads and her munchkin party.

Philip Falcone’s LightSquared Bet Was a Big Bust