Sprint’s owner hires executive with T-Mobile roots

07/18/2014 10:36 AM

07/19/2014 9:35 PM

SoftBank Corp., the Tokyo-based company that owns 80 percent of Sprint Corp., has hired a top Google executive with a history at T-Mobile’s European parent company.

Nikesh Arora has become a vice chairman of SoftBank and reports to founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son. Son also is chairman of Overland Park-based Sprint.

Arora has been at Google for “almost a decade,” according to the announcement, so his T-Mobile connection goes back a ways.

According to Google, Arora joined Deutsche Telekom in 1999. Deutsche Telekom owns 67 percent of T-Mobile US Inc. and is widely expected to sell control to Sprint.

Reports say Deutsche Telekom would retain about a 15 percent stake in T-Mobile, although no deal has been announced.

Arora became T-Mobile Europe’s chief marketing officer and served on its management board, according to his profile at Google. At Google, he most recently was chief business officer.

“Maybe we are reading too much into this — but wanted to point out some interesting facts behind SoftBank’s new hire,” analyst Jennifer Fritzsche at Wells Fargo Securities said in a note to clients. “In our view, there may be more behind the logic of this key hire that we have yet to see play out.”

Fritzsche points out that SoftBank is interested in merging the “Internet, content and mobile worlds” and that “Arora seems to check each one of these boxes in a big way.”

SoftBank’s announcement said Arora would join the company in October as chief executive of a new business called SoftBank Internet and Media Inc.

“As vice chairman, he will work closely with me in defining, implementing and managing our global growth strategy,” Son said in the announcement.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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