Bloomberg ranks Sprint Nextel deal among worst mergers

In a review of the 100 biggest takeovers since 2005, Bloomberg ranked the Sprint-Nextel deal as the third worst for shareholder value

Five years after Sprint merged with Nextel, the deal remains a controversial topic in the financial world. Not only has the combined company struggled through several difficult quarters, but also Bloomberg recently named the acquisition as one that "never should have happened."

In a review published last Thursday of the 100 biggest takeovers since 2005, Bloomberg ranked the Sprint-Nextel deal as the third worst for shareholder value. According to the report, though Sprint paid $36 billion for Nextel in 2005, the carrier now is valued at $30 billion, including dept. The two transactions that fared worse were McClatchy's $4.1 billion acquisition of Knight Ridder in 2006 and Boston Scientific's $27.5 billion acquisition of Guidant in 2006.

From the start, the Sprint Nextel marriage posed several unique challenges, including merging different corporate identities and integrating incompatible CDMA and iDEN networks. A bumpy road soon followed, and the carrier lost revenue and shed customers for several quarters.

This year, however, the company began to turn things around. Though it continues to rank behinds its rivals in J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction studies, Sprint ranked as one of three firms with the biggest improvement in brand image according to Forrester's annual Customer Experience study.

Also, a focus on price through $69.99-per month "Any Mobile, Anytime" calling plans and the introduction of the nation's first 4G network for mobile subscribers has resulted in less customer churn. In the quarter ending in July of this year, Sprint posted a net loss of $760 million, but gained 111,000 new wireless customers. In the preceding quarter it reported net losses of 75,000 subscribers and $865 million in revenue.

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