Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) elevated COO Erik Prusch to be its new permanent CEO, tasking Prusch with raising the money necessary to fund Clearwire's ongoing WiMAX network and launch its planned transition to LTE.
Clearwire said that interim CEO and Chairman John Stanton will become the executive chairman of the company.
Prusch has been with Clearwire since August 2009, and previously served as the company's CFO, overseeing Clearwire's network expansion and a series of funding rounds. However, as the mobile WiMAX operator looks to add TDD-LTE to its technology mix, it faces its toughest test yet. Before Clearwire can even begin deploying LTE, a process that will take a year per market on average, it must secure at least $600 million in additional capital.
Additionally, Clearwire said last week that it will need between $150 million and $300 million to maintain its WiMAX business. All of this comes at time when Clearwire's debt burden is under pressure like never before, and it remains unclear whether Clearwire's majority owner, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), will inject more cash into the business.
Prior to joining Clearwire, Prusch served as CEO of Borland Software, where he also served as CFO and restructured the business back into profitability. He also served as vice president of finance at Intuit.
Stanton was brought in to serve as interim CEO in March after Bill Morrow stepped down as CEO in a shakeup of Clearwire's management team. In a statement, Stanton praised Prusch and said he was confident in Prusch's ability to lead the company. Stanton, a wireless industry veteran, telegraphed his hopes for the firm during the earnings call last week.
"I've been building wireless systems since 1982," Stanton said. "Of the companies I've been involved with including McCaw Cellular, VoiceStream, Western Wireless and two dozen businesses around the world, Clearwire has the richest spectrum position, the largest network, the largest customer base and the best balance sheet at this stage of development of any company with which I have been associated."
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