LightSquared raises questions about GPS-maker stock sales

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 LightSquared blames GPS devices for the interference, saying the problem is that GPS devices "look into" LightSquared's spectrum. The company argues that the stock sales show that Trimble executives believed they would have to pay to adjust their devices.  

"Did Trimble’s top officials sell so much stock because they were concerned that the company might be on the hook for replacing or retrofitting its faulty devices that improperly read into spectrum licensed to LightSquared?" LightSquared spokesman Terry Neal asked.  "Indeed, as recently as last month, a JP Morgan analyst’s report noted Trimble’s potential exposure to this remediation risk, so it is not implausible that such a connection would have been made."

Jim Kirkland, Trimble's general counsel, said LightSquared's accusations are "lacking in substance," and the sales were unrelated to LightSquared's conditional waiver.

"These sales and option exercises were made during an open trading window following announcement of Trimble's 2010 financial results, which were positively received by the market," Kirkland said. "Stock options are an important part of many companies' director and executive compensation programs. Presumably LightSquared executives have stock based compensation, which they will no doubt exercise if and when they create meaningful shareholder value." 

Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared's vice president of regulatory affairs and public policy, accused Trimble executives of orchestrating a political campaign against LightSquared to protect their own bottom-line. 

"This demonstrates that Trimble insiders clearly viewed LightSquared as a financial threat to its commercial business. And that explains Trimble's motivation in leading the public relations and lobbying campaign against LightSquared, even as LightSquared has committed upward of $160 million solving a problem that is of the GPS industry's making," Carlisle said.

Trimble is a member of the Coalition to Save our GPS, a group lobbying against LightSquared. 

The GPS industry says that LightSquared should pay to retrofit GPS devices that are disrupted by LightSquared's network.

According to LightSquared's analysis of documents provided to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Trimble executives sold nearly $20 million worth of stock within three weeks of the FCC's conditional waiver to LightSquared.

Trimble CEO Steven Berglund, chief financial officer Bahri Rajat and board member Brad Parkinson all sold more than $1 million of stocks in February, the records show.

This post was updated on Nov. 1 at 1:25 p.m.