Sprint: New CFO, New Commitment To Old-School iDEN Network

Sprint’s CFO Bob Brust is getting ready to retire, and the operator has wasted no time in making sure that there will be an immediate successor: in the same release announcing Brust’s impending departure, Sprint (NYSE: S) confirmed Joseph J. Euteneuer to take over. Euteneuer is currently the CFO of Qwest. In separate news, Sprint has also signed a deal with Motorola (NYSE: MOT) to extend its iDEN network contract, which forms the backbone of its legacy Nextel push-to-talk service, for an additional three years.

Euteneuer, who was being reported as a potential successor back in Novemberhttp://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2010/11/11/wsj-reports-that-sprint-has-selected.html, is expected to leave Qwest when that operator’s merger with CenturyLink is completed, expected to be some time in 2011. Brust will stay on until then.

Euteneuer has a lengthy track record in the TMT sector, specifically in telecoms, broadcast and wireless services. Before Qwest he had been the CFO of XM Satellite Radio Holdings between 2002 and 2008, when it merged with Sirius (NSDQ: SIRI). Before that, he held various senior positions at Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA).

Euteneuer will be joining at a critical time for the operator: Sprint is currently gearing up for a $5 billion network upgrade, and there are question marks over how and if it will finance its cash-strapped investment and network partner, Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR). Sprint currently has $4.7 billion in reserves but has has to service its own debt, too: $1.65 billion due next month and $2.75 billion in 2012.

— Separately, Sprint announced that it would extend its iDEN network contract with Motorola for another three years.

The iDEN network was the subject of some speculation recently, with some reporting that Sprint was planning to phase out this legacy network, used for services like push-to-talk.

Sprint took on the iDEN network when it merged with Nextel in 2004, but it has been steadily losing subscribers on the service: in the last three quarters they dropped by 18 percent, or 10.6 million users.

The Motorola deal will also include Sprint introducing two more iDEN devices in early 2011.