Sprint shakes up sales and marketing organizations under SoftBank

Sprint (NYSE:S), in its first major executive reshuffling since SoftBank acquired control of the company in a $21.6 billion deal, is reconfiguring its sales and marketing organizations with the departure of some senior executives and the splitting up of responsibilities.

Paget Alves, Sprint's chief sales officer, has left the company, and CMO Bill Malloy will retire in March, according to a statement Sprint. The executive shakeup was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Alves' departure was announced in a company memo in September. Alves, a 14-year Sprint veteran, had been in the chief sales officer role for the past two years. His responsibilities will be split into three roles that will report directly to CEO Dan Hesse, whose contract SoftBank recently renewed through 2018.

Matt Carter, formerly president of Emerging and Global Wholesale Solutions, is now president of Enterprise Solutions. Clearwire's former senior vice president for retail, Dow Draper, is now head of prepaid sales at Sprint, as had been previously reported. Draper is one of two Clearwire executives who have stayed on at Sprint following Sprint's July acquisition of Clearwire (the other is former Clearwire CTO John Saw). Bob Johnson, formerly Sprint's chief service and information technology officer, will now add the role of president and lead Sprint's retail sales and store operations.

Sprint hopes to focus on three key areas: retail sales, prepaid and business and wholesale customers. "This new sales structure will allow us to focus on serving the needs of the customers in each of these diverse segments," Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat said.

According to the Journal, Sprint and SoftBank are looking to squeeze efficiencies as a result of their deal. As part of that effort, Sprint is likely to join Buying & Innovation Group LLC, a newly created venture between SoftBank and Brightstar, the wireless device distributor. The report cited an internal memo, dated Aug. 29, that said BIG will serve as a "buying entity" for member companies. BIG will be led by Fared Adib, who had been Sprint's senior vice president for product development, the report said. The report said he will become chief product and innovation officer and spend most of his time at an office in Silicon Valley. David Owens will become vice president for product development and take over Adib's responsibilities for product development.

Sloat confirmed the changes regarding Adib.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said last week that Sprint investors need to be patient as the carrier undergoes the next chapter in its turnaround under SoftBank control, and warned that real progress might take another two years to achieve. Son is famous for taking over Vodafone's Japanese wireless operations and turning the operation into a powerhouse in the Japanese market. However, Son said that it would take time for Sprint to show meaningful gains in key metrics like subscriber growth.

"It took around a year after SoftBank bought Vodafone (before) we reached the No. 1 position of net gains in subscribers. It takes time to get devices ready and prepare services and the network," he told reporters at an event in Tokyo, according to Reuters. "At the very least you need half a year or a year. And for anything substantial you need one or two years."

In a research note late last month, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote that he now expects Sprint to lose a total of 1.2 million subscribers in 2014 compared with his previous expectation for 100,000 net subscriber additions next year.

"We continue to believe Sprint will take significant share once they have deployed their 2.5 GHz spectrum giving them  a speed and capacity advantage; however, it will take longer than expected," he wrote. "In the meantime, postpaid adds will likely decline for longer than expected and EBITDA will be pressured by higher network costs. New investors may be reluctant to buy into the long-term growth story until sub trends improve."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article

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