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Gary Forsee departs as Sprint Nextel CEO

October 9, 2007

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Sprint Nextel Corp.'s board pushed out Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Forsee on Monday, complaining over the cell phone carrier's financial results, which have lagged since the Sprint-Nextel merger engineered by Forsee.

"It is the right time to put in place new leadership to move the company forward in improving its performance and realizing corporate objectives," board member Irvine Hockaday said in a company statement.

The board said it was searching for a replacement for Forsee, who also was president. In the meantime, Director James Hance Jr. will be acting nonexecutive chairman, and Chief Financial Officer Paul Saleh will serve as acting CEO.

Also Monday, Sprint Nextel said it expects to report a net loss of approximately 337,000 monthly subscribers in the third quarter. Its operating income, excluding some items, is expected to fall below the previously forecast range of $11 billion to $11.5 billion. Sprint Nextel shares closed Monday at $18.50, down 51 cents or 2.7 percent. In extended trading, after the announcement of Forsee's departure, the shares regain-ed 50 cents.

Forsee took over the nation's third-largest wireless provider in 2003 and was a force behind the acquisition of Nextel Communications Inc. in 2005.

The company has struggled after the merger, and its stock price has dropped 27 percent. Amid technical problems and a sometimes unfocused marketing strategy, Sprint Nextel steadily has lost ground to competitors AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless in attracting and retaining customers.

Sprint Nextel is formally based in Reston, Va., Nextel's old base, but maintains operational headquarters in Overland Park, Sprint Corp.'s hometown.

Acting CEO Saleh, 50, comes from the Nextel side, where he was the chief financial officer. Before that he was treasurer of The Walt Disney Co. and Honeywell International Inc.

Acting Chairman Hance, 63, is the former vice chairman of Bank of America Corp. He has been on the Sprint Nextel board since February 2005.

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