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Sprint Names Euteneuer Finance Chief, Replacing Brust

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Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Sprint Nextel Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, named Qwest Communications International Inc. executive Joseph Euteneuer chief financial officer, replacing retiring CFO Robert Brust.

Euteneuer, 55, has been Qwest CFO since September 2008 and previously held that post at XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., Sprint said today in a statement. Brust, 67, will remain in the post while Euteneuer helps Denver-based Qwest complete its merger with CenturyLink Inc., expected in the first half.

Sprint, which competes against Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., has posted losses for 12 consecutive quarters amid customer defections. The company had net debt of $15.6 billion at the end of September, down 20 percent from June 2008. Sprint is also weighing whether to buy debt from partner Clearwire Corp., which provides Sprint’s fourth-generation network.

“I think Euteneuer will be less conservative, be a little more aggressive in how they use” debt, Chris Larsen, a Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst in New York, said in an interview. “He’ll allow them to reduce their free cash flow to spend a little more on the network. He may actually refinance some of the debt instead of just paying it off.”

Euteneuer will have to help Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint manage a $5 billion project, announced this month, aimed at upgrading the company’s network over the next three to five years. The effort is meant to help Sprint combine the various spectrum bands it uses into a single type of base station, improving efficiency.

Overseeing Acquisitions

Sprint said in a filing Euteneuer will get a base salary of $775,000, with a signing bonus of $500,000 and 125,000 shares. Next year, he is eligible for performance-based pay with a target of $4.5 million. Euteneuer collected $685,385 in salary last year and Brust earned $1 million.

Brust has been Sprint’s finance chief since May 2008, helping to oversee the purchases of IPCS Inc. and Virgin Mobile USA Inc. Previously, he held the same role for seven years at Eastman Kodak Co.

Cristi Allen, a Sprint spokeswoman, said Euteneuer wasn’t available for comment.

Sprint added 4 cents to $4.31 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 18 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Bensinger in New York at gbensinger1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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