Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati leaves post abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After less than two and a half years in the position
  • Accolades, praise, thanks and good wishes for Robbiati
  • Michel Combes taking over

(exechange) — Overland Park, Kansas, January 4, 2018 — Tarek Robbiati, finance chief of Sprint, leaves the position. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Sprint Corporation in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, January 4, 2018, Tarek Robbiati leaves his post as Chief Financial Officer at the telecommunications company after less than two and a half years in the position, effective January 6, 2018.

No company wants a CFO to flame out in the first years.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months was 5.8 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 36 percent of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months left the position within three years.

Robbiati leaves the company effective January 31, 2018.

Robbiati’s duties will be taken over by Michel Combes, most recently Chief Executive Officer at Altice N.V.

The fact that Robbiati’s successor is brought in from outside suggests that the board may seek to stimulate change with fresh ideas and new initiatives.

In general, an outsider does not have the constraints of an insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions.

“The company enters a new phase of transformation to deliver profitable growth”

A reason for Robbiati’s sudden departure from the CFO post was not explicitly given. Sprint said: “Combes will support [Chief Executive Officer Marcelo] Claure and the senior leadership team as the company enters a new phase of transformation to deliver profitable growth.”

Sprint further said that Combes “is globally respected as a turnaround strategist who achieves success through a mix of growth and cost management”.

Precise information about Robbiati’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Leave the company”

Sprint said: “Sprint Chief Financial Officer Tarek Robbiati will leave the company on January 31 after a seamless transition of responsibilities.”

Sprint further said: “Tarek Robbiati, our current Chief Financial Officer, will assist with the orderly transition of responsibilities and will leave Sprint on or before January 31, 2018.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Sprint Corporation since February 2017.

Chaired by Masayoshi Son

Sprint Corporation is chaired by Masayoshi Son.

He has been Chairman of Sprint Corporation since July 2013.

CEO: Marcelo Claure

Marcelo Claure serves as CEO of Sprint Corporation. Raul Marcelo Claure has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Sprint Corporation since August 11, 2014.

In the position of CFO since 2015

Tarek A. Robbiati has been the Chief Financial Officer of Sprint Corporation since August 31, 2015.

Prior to joining Sprint as Chief Financial Officer, Tarek A. Robbiati served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of FlexiGroup Limited in Australia since January 21, 2013 and until August 2015.

Prior to that, he was Group Managing Director and Regional President of Telstra International Group, and Executive Chairman of Hong Kong CSL Limited until December 31, 2012.

He has 25 years experience in the telecommunications, finance, media and technology industries.

Robbiati served as the Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong CSL Limited, a subsidiary of Telstra Corporation Limited until May 31, 2010, during which time he has spearheaded and implemented transformation strategies and strengthened CSL’s position as a Market Leader in Hong Kong, arguably the most competitive mobile telecommunications market in the world.

He served as a Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Telstra Corporation Limited from October 21, 2005 to June 2007 during which he helped the company achieve a complex, multi-year, $14bn transformation program.

From 2003 to 2005, Robbiati served as Vice President and Head of Corporate Finance of Orange PCS in London, where he oversaw Orange International strategy across 14 countries, Business Development / M&A, Treasury, Investor Relations and Strategic Planning.

From 1999 to 2003, he worked as Vice President and Senior Equity Research Analyst in London with Lehman Brothers in the #1 ranked telecom research team for three consecutive years.

From 1989 to 1999, he worked as a Strategy Consultant and Senior Manager at Accenture in London and Sophia Antipolis in France servicing TMT clients in Europe and Latin America.

He holds a Master’s of Business Administration from London Business School, a Master’s of Science in Business Administration from Institut d’Administration des Enterprises, Caen, France and a Master’s of Science in Nuclear Physics and Electronics Engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Ingénieurs, Caen, France.

He and his wife Andrea have four children: Courtney, Stephanie, Callum and Saskia.

At the time of Robbiati’s appointment as Chief Financial Officer at Sprint, Claure had said: “Tarek is one of the most dynamic and visionary strategic financial executives in the telecommunications and financial services industries. He is an extraordinary leader known for his tremendous operating skills and his ability to lead organizations through complex strategic, financial, technology and operational challenges.”

At the time of his appointment as Chief Financial Officer at Sprint, Robbiati had said: “I am delighted to join Sprint. Sprint has a unique opportunity to disrupt the U.S. wireless market, and I am eager to help Marcelo and the Sprint team change the game.”

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Tarek Robbiati’s sudden move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 2.2018 ($).