John Legere to Step Down as T-Mobile CEO

Todd Spangler

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John Legere, after more than seven years at the helm of T-Mobile and leading the takeover of rival carrier Sprint, will resign as CEO next spring.

Legere will be replaced by Mike Sievert as CEO, effective May 1, 2020. Sievert is currently president and COO of T-Mobile, and his new title will be president and CEO. Legere will remain a member of the board after he exits as chief executive; his employment contract with T-Mobile ends April 30.

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Reports last week said Legere was in talks to take over as CEO of WeWork, the troubled shared-workplace startup. According to a subsequent CNBC report, Legere doesn’t plan to take the WeWork job — and on a conference call Monday for investors, Legere said he was never engaged in talks to be WeWork’s chief executive.

“I was never having discussions to run WeWork,” Legere said. Because of T-Mobile’s pending announcement, he added, “I couldn’t say it, but it did create a weird awkward period of time.”

The colorful, shaggy-haired Legere — who delights in trash-talking his two biggest rivals, AT&T and Verizon — said in a tweet Monday that the CEO changeover “has been under development for a long time and I couldn’t be more confident in the future of @TMobile under [Sievert’s] leadership.” Legere hasn’t given an indication of what he plans to do after stepping down as CEO.

T-Mobile said the appointment of Sievert, 50, as CEO came after a “multiyear, comprehensive leadership succession planning process.”

Legere’s biggest legacies at T-Mobile will be growing the company into a robust and scrappy third competitor in the U.S. wireless market as well as leading the company’s $26 billion takeover of Sprint.

T-Mobile expects the Sprint deal to close in early 2020, some two years after it was originally announced. The companies have claimed the union will accelerate the rollout of next-gen 5G service nationwide. The FCC this month officially voted to OK the deal after the Department of Justice approved it this summer, but the T-Mobile/Sprint tie-up still faces opposition from state attorneys general who argue reduced competition in the sector will be bad for consumers.

“In the months ahead, my focus will be on ensuring a smooth leadership transition and continuing to work closely with the board and Mike to complete the Sprint transaction,” Legere said in a statement. “This merger will create the New T-Mobile — a company that is uniquely positioned to continue disrupting the wireless category — and beyond.”

Legere also has tried to disrupt the pay-TV business, with less success than T-Mobile has had in the core mobile arena. In late 2017, T-Mobile bought over-the-top television startup Layer3 TV for about $325 million and rebranded the service TVision Home this year — but the strategy hasn’t produced significant results as cord-cutting continues to erode the pay-TV biz.

More fruitful has been T-Mobile’s pact with Netflix, under which the carrier covers the cost of various Netflix packages for unlimited wireless customers who take at least two lines. T-Mobile also is on board as the exclusive wireless launch partner for Quibi, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s ambitious mobile-video gambit. Prior to joining T-Mobile in September 2012, Legere worked for companies including Global Crossing, Dell Computer and AT&T.

John Legere has had an enormously successful run as CEO,” Tim Höttges, Deutsche Telekom CEO and chairman of T-Mobile US, said in a statement. “As the architect of the Un-carrier strategy and the company’s complete transformation, John has put T-Mobile US in an incredibly strong position. I have the highest respect for his performance as a manager and as a friend, I am very grateful to him for the time together.”

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