Is Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure one of the worst chief executives of 2017?
“Sprint failed to execute a merger under Claure and the company’s shares have lost much of their value in a raging bull market,” was the post’s conclusion. It also had said that the deal to merge with rival T-Mobile had fallen apart because Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son “was not prepared to relinquish control of Sprint.”
Son is CEO of Tokyo-based SoftBank Group Corp., which owns more than 80 percent of Sprint.
The part about the stock price falling in a strong market was true, said Berge Ayvazian, an industry consultant at Wireless 20/20.
Sprint shares ended 2016 at $8.42 and were trading Friday at less than $6. The stock’s slide was among the worst for Kansas City area publicly traded companies.
“If that’s the measure of a CEO, I think that’s probably a reason for him to be on that list,” Ayvazian said.
Ayvazian also said that Claure could be held at least partly accountable for the merger’s failure. Son’s ability to negotiate a deal for control was limited by Sprint’s weaker performance relative to T-Mobile, which has been adding far more customers than any other carrier in recent years.
Other CEOs on the worst list include some who did not keep their jobs, among them General Electric’s Jeff Immelt, Macy’s Terry Lundgren and Ford’s Mark Fields.
A Sprint spokeswoman referred to the tweets when asked for a comment.
Claure responded to the ranking with Twitter posts. In one, he offered a defense and in another turned the discussion into a shout-out to the Overland Park-based company’s employees.
“Will all due respect you obviously haven’t taken the time to understand how much the @sprint team has accomplished in the last 3 years and how far we have come along,” Claure wrote to one of the ranking’s authors. “Our network is better than ever, we have reduced close to $7b in costs.”
Claure also wrote that Sprint shares stood at $2.10 a mere 24 months ago, though the low in recent years was $2.18 in early 2016, according to Nasdaq.com.
Then, Claure turned the Twitter conversation into a shout out to employees.
“When you write stuff like this you don’t hurt me,” Claure’s tweet said. “You are hurting tens of thousands of employees (partners) who are committed to this turn around and who are passionately giving us all they have.”
Claure ended with a “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” message to his detractor.
Sprint is more than three years into what Claure had declared was a five-year turnaround. It has begun to add customers again and posted a profit in one quarter of 2017.
Since the end of merger talks with T-Mobile, Claure declared that Sprint would “once and for all do the right investment” in the company’s network. That will require billions more than Sprint had been spending on its network, leaving outsiders to wonder where the money would come from.
Here’s the full entry on Claure.
15. Marcelo Claure
Company: Sprint Corp.
Tenure: August 2014 to present
YTD share price change: -33%
Sprint (NYSE:S) is the result of the combination of Sprint, Nextel, Clearwire, and Virgin Mobile, and it has been an absolute disaster for shareholders. Since December 2013, the shares have slid 46% from $10.75 to $5.84 in late December.
Marcelo Claure has been CEO of Sprint since 2014. The company provides service to 54 million customers in nearly 200 countries. In 2013, the Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Group Inc. made a multi-billion dollar investment in Sprint, acquiring a 70% stake. Ever since that deal, some industry observers have regarded the Sprint shares as more or less a tracking stock under Softbank.
Publicly, things have not been going well for Sprint. Claure is feuding with T-Mobile US’s John Legere, and Sprint’s acquisition by T-Mobile US recently fell apart because SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was not prepared to relinquish control of Sprint.
Sprint’s debt load and leverage may prevent it from being able to diversify out of mobile communications.
Sprint, the smallest of the four U.S. nationwide carriers, appears to be too challenged for anyone who has outside interests and demands.
Sprint failed to execute a merger under Claure and the company’s shares have lost much of their value in a raging bull market.
This story was updated to embed the correct second tweet.