Sprint chief Marcelo Claure (pictured) will take on a new role at the company, stepping away from his post as CEO by the end of this month to better focus on the operator’s proposed merger with T-Mobile US.
Claure will move to a new position as executive chairman at Sprint and COO of parent SoftBank, while former CFO Michel Combes will move up the ranks to become Sprint’s new CEO. Sprint said its search for a new CFO is underway.
During an earnings call, Claure said the change will allow him to focus on wooing regulators in Washington to pass the T-Mobile merger deal without compromising Sprint’s day-to-day operations.
Though Combes will be at the helm of Sprint’s daily operations, Claure noted he will retain responsibility for delivering Sprint’s operating performance and financial results to SoftBank. Claure added he will also work with SoftBank and others to introduce them to the merged entity and come up with new business models.
Claure stressed that while his focus is shifting, he is not leaving the company: “The main reason for effecting this change now is to collaborate with [T-Mobile CEO] John Legere on securing regulatory approval over the next nine to 18 months.”
As the merger awaits a green light from regulators, Sprint and T-Mobile will continue to operate completely independently, Claure said.
But he noted the operators’ work on their respective 5G networks will be compatible: “The fact that they are deploying their 5G network on 600MHz and we are deploying ours on 2.5[GHz] mean this is 100 per cent complementary, and upon merger approval it is quite easy in terms of basically putting these two networks together.”
The companies are also planning to separately pursue mmWave spectrum in Federal Communications Commission auctions later this year. But Sprint CTO John Saw said the operator views mmWave spectrum more as an overlay tool to add capacity in congested areas than a band for widespread deployments.
In addition to enhancing its network, Sprint is also planning to open “hundreds” of new retail stores in 2018, building on the more than 500 Sprint and 800-plus Boost Mobile locations it added in 2017. The operator didn’t specify where it plans to add stores, but T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert said during a separate earnings call T-Mobile plans to build its own new stores in “rural areas and areas that neither company reaches”.
During Sprint’s fiscal fourth quarter (the three month period ended 31 March), net income of $69 million improved from a loss of $283 million in the year-ago period. That uplift came despite a $456 million slide in net revenue year on year to $8.1 billion. Service revenue of $5.6 billion was down $171 million from the same period a year ago, and equipment sales of $1.1 billion dropped $500 million year on year. However, leasing revenue of $1.1 billion was up $294 million from Sprint’s fiscal Q4 2017.
The operator posted 55,000 net postpaid phone subscriber gains in the quarter, as well as prepaid net additions of 170,000.