T-Mobile chief John Legere to step down in May, COO Mike Sievert to replace

Legere is departing as T-Mobile still works to close its $26 billion merger with Sprint.

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Mike Sievert (left) with T-Mobile chief John Legere.

John Legere will step down as T-Mobile's chief executive on May 1, 2020, the company announced Monday. Current T-Mobile president and COO Mike Sievert will take over as part of the planned succession.

Legere -- an eccentric CEO who regularly wears bright pink T-Mobile t-shirts -- is departing as the wireless company still works to close its $26 billion merger with Sprint. 

The companies recently secured formal approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but have agreed to hold off on closing the deal until the resolution of a pending legal challenge. Multiple state attorneys general filed a suit to block the merger, arguing the deal -- which would reduce the number of major wireless carriers in the US from four to three -- will decrease competition. 

While the two companies combined will bulk up and have scale to compete with Verizon and AT&T, there are concerns. A recent report from Oppenheimer estimates that the pro forma combination of T-Mobile will have net debt of $52.2 billion. Sprint brings $32.94 billion in net debt and T-Mobile brings net debt of $24.35 billion.

Nonetheless, T-mobile continues to outpace Verizon and AT&T in adding subscribers and T-Mobile has also accelerated the launch of its 5G network. Legere said last month he expects the Sprint deal to close in early 2020. 

"In the months ahead, my focus will be on ensuring a smooth leadership transition and continuing to work closely with the Board and Mike to complete the Sprint transaction," Legere said in a press release Monday. "This merger will create the new T-Mobile -- a company that is uniquely positioned to continue disrupting the wireless category -- and beyond. This marks the beginning of a dynamic new chapter for T-Mobile."

Last week reports surfaced that Legere was in talks to lead WeWork's parent company We Co. The company scrapped its IPO last month, in part because of a series of reports about the dubious activities of its then-CEO Adam Neumann. A Wall Street Journal article claimed that Neumann was known for partying on the job and borrowing heavily against his stock. After Neumann resigned under pressure in September, WeWork executives Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham took over as co-CEOs. 

Legere has not commented on the potential move to WeWork.