Sprint’s Marcelo Claure gets COO role at SoftBank Group

03 May 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

SoftBank has given Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure a lifeboat to jump into after T-Mobile US takes over Sprint next year.

The company today said he will be chief operating officer of the SoftBank Group and CEO of SoftBank Group International.

SoftBank said that, in his new role, Claure will work closely with Masayoshi Son, the boss of SoftBank, and Rajeev Misra, who is CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisors, in "managing the operations of SoftBank’s increasingly global portfolio of companies".

He will also be executive chairman of Sprint, handing over the CEO role to Michel Combes, who has been CFO until now.

Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group, said: "Marcelo has done a remarkable job in turning around Sprint, which in fiscal year 2017 delivered the best financials in the company’s history, and has positioned the company as the true leader in the race to 5G, and he has fulfilled my original vision of combining Sprint with T-Mobile to create a company that will drive American leadership in mobile communications."

When Sprint and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile US announced plans to merge, it was clear that T-Mobile people would take the leading jobs in the combined company – including Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges as chairman.

It was unclear at the time of Sunday’s announcement what roles Claure and Combes would have. Claure came into SoftBank five years ago when it bought a majority stake in mobile phone distributor Brightstar. SoftBank moved him into Sprint as CEO in 2014 after the first attempt to merge it with T-Mobile US failed, replacing Dan Hesse.

Combes is a more recent arrival, joining Sprint in January 2018 from Altice to replace former CFO Tarek Robbiati. Combes previously headed Vodafone Europe, and then Alcatel-Lucent before it was bought by Nokia. He then joined Altice as CEO until leaving abruptly last November as the company’s financial performance worsened.

SoftBank said that Claure "will be responsible for ensuring that all group companies and investments are meeting the financial and operating objectives, as well as managing group synergies and transformations".

"Marcelo has been a close and trusted advisor for many years and, after watching him at Brightstar and Sprint, I can say he is an entrepreneur and operator unlike any other," said Son. "His energy, integrity, global mindset and leadership skills will provide tremendous value to SoftBank."

Claure said: "I look forward to continuing to work with the Sprint board and management team on our turnaround and planned integration with T-Mobile. Both SoftBank and Sprint are fully committed to delivering American consumers the world’s best and fastest 5G network and together with T-Mobile we intend to fulfil that vision."

Claure and Son will be on the board of the combined T-Mobile/Sprint if regulators approve the merger, which is expected to be complete in about a year.


Topics: Sprint, SoftBank, T-Mobile, merger, Deutsche Telekom, Masayoshi Son, Michel Combes