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Sprint introduces its new CEO

Telecommunications veteran Dan Hesse takes over where Gary Forsee left off. Hesse's mission: improve the company's core business--and stock price--as soon as possible.

With a mandate to "improve execution across the board," wireless carrier Sprint Nextel named industry veteran Dan Hesse as its president and CEO.

Hesse is a former AT&T Wireless executive and was head of Embarq, the telephone division Sprint spun off in May last year, so he knows his way around the telecommunications business, but his new job nonetheless comes with considerable pressure.

Dan Hesse, president and CEO, Sprint Sprint Nextel

The company's search for a new chief executive began in early October, when the Sprint board pushed out chairman and CEO Gary Forsee and tapped Chief Financial Officer Paul Saleh to become acting CEO.

Forsee's removal was precipitated in part by subscriber losses--about 330,000 in the third quarter alone--and the company's commitment to spend $5 billion on development of a next-generation wireless network based on WiMax technology.

Although it said it will continue development of its WiMax network, Sprint suspended a partnership it had struck in July with broadband specialist Clearwire. It's not yet clear what Hesse will do with what remains of Sprint's WiMax initiative.

In a note distributed on Tuesday, telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan called Hesse's appointment "great news" for Sprint, citing his success in building market share for AT&T and in running Embarq.

"I think Dan taking over at Sprint is exactly what the company needs," Kagan wrote. "I also think it is the big challenge that Dan needs."