Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure to Talk Network With ‘Big Boss’ in Japan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (The Kansas City Star/TNS) -

Sprint Corp. CEO Marcelo Claure headed to Japan Monday amid changes at Sprint’s parent company based there.

Claure posted a photo on Twitter to announce his trip “to visit my big boss” and finalize Sprint’s latest network plans.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based wireless carrier said last week that it plans to add many more wireless towers and smaller cellular sites to boost its network’s performance and take advantage of wireless resources it has yet to fully deploy.

Since mid-2013, Sprint has been controlled by Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp. and its founder Masayoshi Son, who had hired Claure to run Sprint last August.

Son, in Tokyo Monday, announced plans to change his company’s name and elevate the future role of the former Google Inc. executive it hired last year.

SoftBank Corp., which owns 80 percent of Sprint, will become SoftBank Group Corp. on July 1. The small change reflects the company’s shift from a Japanese company with global assets to a global company, according to its announcement.

Son, SoftBank’s 57-year-old founder and chief executive, also named Nikesh Arora as a top candidate to succeed him, according to a report from Bloomberg. Arora had joined SoftBank last July and became a director of Sprint last fall.

“SoftBank is now entering a second stage,” Son said, according to the report. “The globalization of SoftBank is the responsibility of Nikesh (Arora), my biggest partner.”

Sprint poses a challenge to Son’s plans to look beyond Japan for growth. SoftBank had plans to acquire and merge T-Mobile US Inc. with Sprint, but backed away after U.S. regulators balked at the idea.

The two U.S. wireless companies are nearly the same size in number of subscribers, though T-Mobile has grown substantially in the last two years as Sprint has struggled to stay ahead. Sprint also has lost money and faces large investments in its network and wireless resources.

Son had named Claure, an immigrant entrepreneur who built a $10 billion cellphone-distribution company in Miami, to become Sprint’s chief executive last August.

He has embraced price cuts and phone-leasing deals to turn around the company’s subscriber trends. He has cut 3,700 Sprint jobs and more than $1.5 billion in expenses to help staunch its financial losses.

Officially, Arora, who already is vice chairman behind Son, is becoming SoftBank’s representative director, president and chief operating officer. Son remains chairman and chief executive.

In announcing Arora’s new positions and other changes at SoftBank, Son said technology companies, including SoftBank, generally need to move beyond their founders.

“Many tech companies face a decline after 30 years due to evolving technologies, changing business models and over reliance on founders,” he said in the company’s announcement. “To create a sustainable growth business for centuries to come, we must transform our current operating assets and take a systematic approach to supporting our group of disruptive entrepreneurs.”