Sprint in Talks to Sell Struggling Nextel Unit

Wireless carrier reportedly ready to give up on troubled acquisition
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2008 8:03 AM CDT
Various models of phones are displayed on a computer screen as a customer is helped at a Sprint store in Murray, Utah, in this Feb. 28, 2007 file photo.   (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, file)
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(Newser) – Sprint is considering selling or spinning off its Nextel division, signaling the end of a troubled, disappointing merger, the Wall Street Journal reports. Talks are already under way with Nextel founder Morgan O'Brien, who would integrate the unit into his new wireless public-safety network, and other prospective buyers, including private-equity firms.

One industry vet said Nextel’s worth has shrunk to $5billion-$16 billion, a fraction of the $35 billion Sprint paid in 2005 to acquire the unit. The marriage has been rocky from the start; Sprint and Nextel management styles didn’t mix, and Sprint didn’t invest in upgrading Nextel’s network. Nextel phones also fell behind, looking stodgy beside sleeker offerings from other carriers.