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Sprint Names CFO Acting CEO

Paul Saleh is temporarily taking the reins after the chief executive's sudden resignation amid lower-than-expected results for the company.
Stephen TaubOctober 9, 2007

Sprint Nextel has tapped chief financial officer Paul Saleh as its acting CEO until a permanent replacement is found for Gary Forsee, who on Monday resigned as chairman, president, and chief executive officer, effective immediately.

James Hance, a member of the company’s board of directors, assumes the role of acting non-executive chairman. The position of lead independent director, held by Irvine Hockaday, is being combined into Hance’s new role, though Hockaday will remain a board member.

“It is the right time to put in place new leadership to move the company forward in improving its performance and realizing corporate objectives,” said Hockaday in a press release.

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The announcement came at the same time the telecom giant said it expects to report a net loss of approximately 337,000 post-paid subscribers in the third quarter. In addition, the company warned that both adjusted OIBDA (operating income before depreciation, amortization, restructuring and asset impairments, and special items) and consolidated operating revenue for 2007 are expected to come in slightly below the previously expected $11 billion to $11.5 billion of adjusted OIBDA and $41 to $42 billion of consolidated operating revenue.

The company said the search for a new CEO will focus on external candidates.

Saleh has served as CFO since the merger of Sprint and Nextel. Before that he had been executive vice president and CFO for Nextel since joining the company in 2001. From 1997 to 2001 he was senior vice president and CFO at Walt Disney International, and also served as senior vice president and treasurer for The Walt Disney Co. Prior to Disney, Saleh served as treasurer of Honeywell, where he spent 12 years in various leadership positions in finance, treasury, investor relations, strategic planning, and operations.

Forsee took over Sprint in 2003 and was a driving force behind the acquisition of Nextel in August 2005.