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. (Read more Sprint Nextel stories.)