(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Sprint Nextel announced that Tim Donahue is leaving as chairman of the struggling cell phone carrier, the second unexpected departure of a top executive in six weeks.
The company did not name a replacement for Donahue, 57, who was CEO of Nextel before it was acquired by Sprint last year for $35 billion, creating the nation's third-largest cellular provider with more than 40 million wireless customers and $40 billion in annual revenue.
Donahue's resignation surprised some analysts, but Sprint spokesman David Gunasegaram said there had been speculation since the two companies merged that Donahue would stay for only two years. Gunasegaram stressed that the resignation was voluntary and had been expected internally.
The announcement came on the heels of a recent rough patch, including a weak second-quarter earnings report and the sudden ouster of Len Lauer, a veteran Sprint executive, as president. Sprint Nextel CEO Gary Forsee took over Lauer's responsibilities. Forsee and Donahue orchestrated the merger of the two companies.
The departure of Donahue, a Nextel executive since 1996, 'will make the integration of Sprint and Nextel that much more challenging,' Greg Miller, a telecom analyst with Deutsche Bank, said in a report.
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