Sprint hires former Altice chief as CFO - Mobile World Live

Sprint hires former Altice chief as CFO

04 JAN 2018

Sprint revealed plans to replace current CFO Tarek Robbiati with former Altice CEO Michel Combes (pictured).

Combes is set to join the US operator on 6 January ahead of Robbiati’s anticipated departure on 31 January to ensure a “seamless transition of responsibilities”. Combes will report directly to CEO Marcelo Claure and will be appointed to the company’s board of directors at a later date.

Sprint did not share a reason for Robbiati’s exit or insight into his next moves. However, Claure praised Robbiati’s efforts to drive cost reductions and fund turnaround efforts through “innovative financial transactions” during his time at the company. Robbiati joined Sprint in August 2015.

“Today Sprint is in its best liquidity position in years and that is in large part due to the financial discipline and innovative financing that Tarek implemented,” Claure concluded.

Turnaround strategist
Sprint touted Combes as a globally-respected “turnaround strategist who achieves success through a mix of growth and cost management”. As Robbiati before him, Combes will be responsible for leading the company’s financial operations, strategy and cost transformation. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the addition would accelerate Sprint’s transformation progress.

Combes most recently served as CEO of Altice before resigning in November. He also took the helm of a troubled Alcatel-Lucent in 2013 and engineered its €15.6 billion sale to Nokia before leaving in 2015. Combes’ other roles include stints as CEO of Vodafone Europe, French tower company TDF and French telecom and media company SFR Group. He also served as an adviser for mobile phone distribution company Brightstar, which was founded by Claure.

In a statement, Combes said he was “delighted” to take part in Sprint’s comeback effort: “This is an exciting challenge and unique opportunity to help lead a distinguished company through an historic turnaround and its most exciting period yet.”

Robbiati’s departure follows the exit of several other Sprint executives, including COO of Technology Gunther Ottendorfer, MVNO president Jim Hyde and SVP of marketing Jeff Nelson late in 2017. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, the earlier moves were part of a plan to reduce the total number of executives reporting to Claure from 16 to nine.

Sprint’s choice of the former Altice executive as its new CFO comes a matter of months after the operator agreed an MVNO deal with the company’s US cable division. At the time, Sprint said the partnership would allow Altice USA to deliver mobile voice and data services, while providing it with access to Altice’s broadband platform as part of network densification efforts.


Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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