Sprint replaces CFO Euteneuer with former Telstra exec Tarek Robbiati

Sprint (NYSE: S) shook up its senior executive team and said that CFO Joe Euteneuer will be leaving the company and will be replaced by Tarek Robbiati. The carrier also brought in a new executive, Günther Ottendorfer, to be COO of technology. Sprint also promoted John Saw to be CTO, replacing Stephen Bye, who left the company late last month.


The revamp of Sprint's senior ranks comes just ahead of the carrier's earnings report on Tuesday. Investors and analysts will be looking to see if T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) overtakes Sprint in total subscribers and also what Sprint executives divulge about the company's network densification plans.

Robbiati, 50, was most recently managing director and CEO at FlexiGroup, an Australian consumer finance company specializing in leasing. Sprint has embraced phone leasing since last fall. Previously, Robbiati held senior executive positions, including group managing director and deputy CFO of leading Australian telco Telstra.  He also previously served as CEO of CSL Limited, the No. 1 mobile operator in Hong Kong, and executive vice president and head of corporate finance for Orange.

Robbiati will be joining Sprint in late August, will report to Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and is moving to Kansas City, Mo., near Sprint's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.

Euteneuer will leave the company "following an orderly transition of responsibilities," Sprint said. Euteneuer's next moves are unclear.

"As Sprint is entering the next phase of its transformation under Marcelo, it was a mutual agreement that it was time for a change," Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat told FierceWireless. "Joe will be at Sprint until our new CFO starts and then he [will] help with the transition." 

Euteneuer joined Sprint as CFO in April 2011 and had previously been CFO of Qwest Communications, which merged with CenturyLink. Euteneuer led Sprint's finances as the carrier undertook its Network Vision network modernization and was acquired by Japanese operator SoftBank. However, some financial analysts have questioned how long Sprint can continue posting financial losses and burning through cash. SoftBank President Nikesh Arora said last week that SoftBank remains committed to Sprint and its turnaround.

Incoming COO of Technology Ottendorfer, 46, previously served as CTO and a board member for Telekom Austria and managing director of Optus Singtel in Sydney, Australia. Ottendorfer will join Sprint effective immediately and will report to Claure. He will lead a newly created "Technology Office" with responsibility for all network planning and deployment functions, as well as information technology.

John Saw, Sprint's current chief network officer, is being promoted to CTO and will be reporting to Ottendorfer. Presumably, Saw will oversee Sprint's "Next Generation Network" densification plan and its continued deployment of 2.5 GHz spectrum. Saw has expertise on that front from his days as CTO of Clearwire.

Junichi Miyakawa, who had been technical COO at Sprint, will become a senior technical adviser in Claure's office and a liaison between Softbank and Sprint for network strategy. He had been in the technical COO role at Sprint since Nov. 1, 2014. Miyakawa had previously been executive vice president and CTO of SoftBank Mobile, SoftBank BB and SoftBank Telecom. Sprint noted that under his direction, SoftBank emerged as a wireless market leader in Japan with a network running largely on 2.5 GHz.

Sprint controls around 120 MHz of spectrum in that band in 90 percent of the top 100 markets and is using that spectrum to provide expanded capacity and higher speeds to customers.

"One of my goals when I first arrived as CEO was to strengthen our management team," Claure said in a statement "As I begin my second year here at Sprint, I feel very good about the team we have put together to pursue the great opportunities ahead. I couldn't be more excited to add talented and experienced executives like Tarek and Günther to our leadership team. Both of these individuals are world-class leaders with deep expertise and proven track records in exactly the areas that will be critical to accelerating our efforts to move Sprint forward."

Claure added: "Joe is an experienced and talented financial executive, and he has been a strong partner as we have run the business over the past year. I thank him for his service and dedication to the company and I wish him well in his future endeavors."

Sprint noted that Robbiati has more than 25 years of business and financial experience across a number of key areas, including corporate strategy and finance, mergers and acquisitions, treasury and balance sheet management and new business development. Sprint also boasted that Robbiati has "a proven track record of driving shareholder value creation, strong financial performance, deal-making and building high-performing teams."

Sprint said that under Ottendorfer it is uniting the network and information technology functions to "capture tremendous advantages, including greater efficiency in designing, rapidly deploying and scaling the next generation network." Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) did the same thing in March when Tony Melone stepped down as CTO and was replaced by Roger Gurnani, who leads a combined network and IT group. As carriers move to software-defined networks and embrace network functions virtualization, the network and IT functions inside of them are being merged and consolidated.

"Network Virtualization is a prime example of the advanced technology that offers the company the ability to increase the power of its wireless network, deploy improvements rapidly, manage it with greater flexibility and more easily introduce new services over the network," Sprint said in a statement. "Ottendorfer was ahead of the curve in recognizing this technology as a future trend in the mobile industry and he championed its use while serving as group CTO at Telekom Austria Group."

For more:
- see this release

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