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Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Sprint hires BellSouth executive

Arbitrator allows Forsee to join rival company with restrictions

March 19, 2003

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— Hours after receiving permission from an arbitrator, Sprint Corp. named the No. 2 executive at rival BellSouth its new chief executive.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based telecommunications firm said Gary D. Forsee, vice chairman of BellSouth and chairman of its wireless subsidiary, Cingular, will take over today. A former Sprint executive, Forsee will also take a seat on the company's board.

Sprint spokesman Mark Bonavia said Forsee was expected to arrive in Kansas City next week.

"It is a pleasure to be a part of this great company again," Forsee said in a statement released by the company late Tuesday.

The 52-year-old Forsee replaces William T. Esrey, who was forced out by Sprint's board over their concerns about his use of a questionable tax shelter. Sprint said late Tuesday night that Esrey would continue in his role as chairman during a transition period.

Sprint's appointment of Forsee came after former federal Judge William Webster ended a two-month dispute between Sprint and BellSouth over his fate.

Webster, also a former CIA and FBI director who conducted three days of closed-door hearings last week, imposed several restrictions Tuesday on Forsee in his arbitration ruling to protect BellSouth from the disclosure of trade secrets. Among them is that Forsee can not participate in any merger and acquisition discussions or sales discussions for 12 months.

Sprint's board said the conditions were acceptable.

Forsee joined BellSouth in 1999 after nearly a decade in various positions with Sprint. Atlanta-based BellSouth went to court in January to stop Forsee from taking Esrey's job as chief executive of Sprint, citing concerns he could disclose key information about BellSouth's business.

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