CenturyLink CFO Sunil Patel is taking his integration expertise to T-Mobile U.S. as it prepares to merge with Sprint.
The veteran telecom executive had become finance chief at CenturyLink last year after it acquired Level 3, where he worked as CFO for more than 14 years. He will join T-Mobile as its new executive vice president, merger and integration lead, effective Oct. 1.
T-Mobile and Sprint — the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers — announced their merger in April and are expecting the transaction to close in the first half of 2019. However, it is still awaiting regulatory approval.
“We are increasingly optimistic about the path we’re on to create the New T-Mobile and are now looking forward to bringing someone with Sunit’s experience to our team to lead us through the strategic planning for integration of our businesses — one of the most exciting and integral aspects of this merger,” T- Mobile President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert said in a news release.
The news of Patel’s move was less welcome for CenturyLink’s investors as the company’s stock fell 8.1% in trading Tuesday. He will be replaced on an interim basis by group vice president of finance Neel Dev.
“Patel’s departure comes at a vulnerable time for CenturyLink, which is 11 months into its integration with Level 3 Communications Inc., a deal that essentially doubled the size of the company,” The Wall Street Journal said.
Patel has experience with a number of large-scale strategic transactions, including Level 3’s acquisitions of network operator Global Crossing and business internet provider TW Telecom. Before joining Level 3, he served as Patel served as CFO and co-founder of Looking Glass Networks.
One of Patel’s greatest strengths has been “accessing the capital markets and synergy attainment — especially in the wake of mergers,” Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said in a client note, adding, “We believe Patel’s skill sets will fit very well with where the New TMUS will be in its evolution.”
CenturyLink’s stock slide on Tuesday knocked about $2 billion off its market value.