Sprint Confirms CEO Change

By Dow Jones Business News, 

Sprint Corp. on Wednesday confirmed plans to replace Chief Executive Dan Hesse with Marcelo Claure, a billionaire entrepreneur who is untested as a wireless operator.

The move is effective Aug. 11 and comes amid a report by The Wall Street Journal that the telecom operator will end its pursuit of T-Mobile US Inc. in the face of stiff opposition from regulators.

The T-Mobile decision, made at a Sprint board meeting Tuesday, would put an end to a deal that would have valued T- Mobile at $32 billion and created a more muscular rival to market leaders Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc.

Mr. Claure, a Bolivian soccer fan, built mobile phone distributor Brightstar Corp. into a company with more than $10 billion in revenue and a presence in more than 50 countries. SoftBank bought control of Brightstar in January to give it more clout with makers of mobile phones and put Mr. Claure on Sprint's board. He will have his work cut out for him.

Since buying control of Sprint, Masayoshi Son has found it more difficult than he anticipated to change the stodgy culture of a telecom company based in Overland Park, Kansas, that he said had a "loser" mentality. Mr. Son opened an office in San Carlos, Calif. and brought SoftBank engineers from Japan to help guide the turnaround.

His brash personality rubbed some Sprint executives the wrong way, however, and there has been a series of departures in the sales, marketing and network departments.

"Masa and I are very different and we don't always agree," wrote Mr. Hesse in an email to the Journal earlier this year, using Mr. Son's nickname. "But we respect each other a great deal and we communicate that respect to one another regularly."

Meanwhile, T-Mobile continues to consider alternatives for its future. T-Mobile on Tuesday denied Iliad's request for access to its books after determining that the proposed $15 billion bid wasn't strong enough, people familiar with the matter said.

Gillian Tan and Thomas Gryta contributed to this article.

Write to Ryan Knutson at ryan.knutson@wsj.com and Dana Mattioli at dana.mattioli@wsj.com

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Referenced Stocks: 9984 , DTE , DTEGY , S , TMUS

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