SoftBank extends Sprint CEO Hesse's contract through 2018

Sprint (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse isn't going anywhere anytime soon, as parent SoftBank has extended Hesse's contract through at least July 31, 2018.

sprint softbank ceo dan hesse


According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was first reported by Dow Jones Newswires, Hesse still has a base salary of $1.2 million, unchanged from his previous contract. No compensation changes were made.

Hesse took over from Gary Forsee in December 2007 as Sprint was spiraling into gloom, with subscribers leaving in droves and customer satisfaction at all-time lows. Since then, he has managed to turn the ship around, though Sprint is still dealing with the after effects of its merger with Nextel. Sprint shut down the Nextel iDEN network in the second quarter, but Hesse and other Sprint executives have said "mixed" business accounts that had both iDEN and Sprint CDMA customers will continue to weigh on the company's subscriber results in the second half of 2013 as the CDMA customers leave.

In the meantime, Sprint is plowing ahead with its Network Vision network modernization plan, has $5 billion in fresh capital from SoftBank, which now owns 80 percent of Sprint, and is using the 2.5 GHz spectrum it scooped up via its Clearwire acquisition to bolster its capacity.

Sprint expects to deploy TD-LTE technology across 5,500 Clearwire cell sites by the end of the year using Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum, and will continue to roll that technology out across the nation next year. The carrier will focus first on specific parts of cities and then across entire markets. Sprint is also turning on LTE in its 800 MHz spectrum late this quarter and expects all of the devices it launches next year will be able to access TD-LTE on 2.5 GHz.

"Our goal is to build the best network of any carrier in the world and we think we will have that when we're done," Hesse said in an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer. Hesse acknowledged that as Sprint has progressed through its Network Vision transition, network quality in some markets has gone down as Sprint has replaced legacy equipment with new multi-mode base stations. However, he said in markets where the upgrade is complete, Sprint customers are seeing significant improvements in voice and data quality. "It's the most massive network change any company has every gone through," he said.

Hesse reiterated that Sprint plans to increase its network marketing as it nears the end of its Network Vision network upgrade program. "That's when we're going to put a little more pedal to the metal in terms of offers and marketing, when the network transition is mainly behind us," Hesse said. He also said Clearwire's spectrum will let Sprint provide "unheard-of speeds on the network."

Interestingly, Hesse said that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhones are selling out at Sprint, especially the higher-end 5s model. "We're beginning to run out of inventory, especially the 5s," he said. Apple said it sold a total of 9 million models of its iPhone 5s and 5c during the first weekend of sales, but didn't break down that figure by carrier.

For more:
- see this SEC filing
- see this Kansas City Business Journal article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article
- see this CNBC video

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