Last updated: March 13, 2012 - 8:47am
Sprint Nextel chief Dan Hesse is negotiating one of the trickiest high-wire acts in corporate America. And behind the scenes, the company's board of directors is taking an unusually active role to head off missteps amid vocal investor complaints.
At stake is whether the No. 3 wireless carrier can stop losing money after five years in the red, and whether it can remain a viable competitor to rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless in an industry that regulators fear has already grown too concentrated. Sprint Chairman Jim Hance has met with or talked to all of the company's major shareholders in the past six months, hoping to persuade them that the board understands their urgency about restoring profits at the money-losing carrier. The board has also dived into the nitty-gritty of Sprint's deal making. After hearing investor concerns that the tough style of Sprint's chief of strategic planning, Keith Cowan, was angering some potential partners, the board asked Hesse to join him in negotiating on Sprint's behalf. The two worked together last fall when Sprint hammered out new agreements with high-speed wireless provider Clearwire.
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