Sprint Nextel names new CEO

Dan Hesse, previously chief of Embarq and head of AT&T Wireless, replaces the retiring Gary Forsee

U.S. mobile operator Sprint Nextel has appointed Dan Hesse as president and CEO. He replaces Gary Forsee, who resigned in October.

Forsee left as Sprint Nextel fought to retain market share in the face of its two larger rivals, AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The company struggled with integrating the disparate customer bases of its two constituent parts, not least because the Sprint and Nextel wireless networks are based on different technologies.

Sprint Nextel's directors already know Hesse: he most recently served as chairman, president and CEO of Embarq, a company formed from the local telecommunications division of Sprint following that company's 2005 merger with Nextel.

Before that, he held the same roles at Terabeam, a wireless carrier, following a number of years at the head of AT&T Wireless.

Hesse will now join the Sprint Nextel board of directors, although unlike Forsee he will not be its chairman. That honor will remain with James Hance, who took the post following Forsee's departure, the board said Tuesday.

Sprint's two cellular networks serve around 54 million customers, and it also has licenses to build a national WiMax network, leaving it with something of an identity problem. Hesse will have to balance the needs of these networks as he sets out a new strategy for the company.

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