Sprint Gets New CFO Amid Leadership Change at Struggling Carrier

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Tarek Robbiati
Tarek Robbiati, incoming chief financial officer at Sprint Corp. Photographer: Thomas Lee/Bloomberg

Sprint Corp. named a new finance chief in the biggest management shake-up under Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure, who’s now almost a year into his attempt to turn around the phone carrier.

Tarek Robbiati will become CFO, replacing Joseph Euteneuer, who will leave following a transition period, Sprint said Monday in a statement. Robbiati, 50, most recently was managing director and CEO at FlexiGroup Ltd., an Australian consumer finance company specializing in leasing.

Since he was hired by majority owner SoftBank Group Corp. last August, Claure was able to reverse years of customer losses with half-price offers and tablet promotions. The focus on bargain hunters, however, has taken a toll on profitability, and it underscores the challenges Sprint faces as rival T-Mobile US Inc. continues to attract users.

The new CFO is joining a company that has posted a net loss in five of the past six quarters. Analysts on average anticipate another net loss, of $213 million, for the June quarter, when the carrier releases quarterly results Tuesday. Sprint is also expected to lose its No. 3 spot in the U.S. phone market to T-Mobile, based on total users.

“Marcelo is increasingly putting his stamp on the company,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics LLC. “He is changing out the team. It’s time for a new leadership to take over and come up with new ideas.”

The shares fell 1.8 percent to $3.28 at 6:18 p.m. in New York after the markets closed. The stock had declined 20 percent this year, while T-Mobile jumped 54 percent.

Euteneuer had been with Sprint since 2011, through tumoultous times that included a change in ownership -- with Tokyo-based SoftBank becoming a majority owner in 2013. SoftBank President Masayoshi Son brought in Claure last year to turn Sprint around.

Robbiati has experience in cost-structure optimization and designing complex leasing agreements, Sprint said. His strong background in capital markets, treasury and balance sheet management also will be valuable as Sprint works on its cash flow, according to the statement. Analysts on average anticipate free cash flow to remain negative for the next three years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Among other changes in management announced Monday, Günther Ottendorfer, 46, is joining as chief operating officer, and John Saw, who is chief network officer, is promoted to chief technology officer.

“It’s a massive shakeup, there clearly seem to be more changes ahead,” said Jonathan Atkin, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

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