By Drew FitzGerald 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (February 12, 2020).

T-Mobile US Inc.'s John Legere is close to collecting more than $100 million this spring after spending years guiding the cellphone carrier's merger with Sprint Corp. through regulatory obstacles.

While the merger was pending, the departing chief executive secured a bonus that would vest in 2020 if the company's planned takeover of smaller rival Sprint was consummated. A federal court ruling Tuesday put that milestone within sight, though T-Mobile must still win approval from another U.S. district court in Washington conducting a routine review of the deal.

The outspoken executive plans to hand over the top job at T-Mobile to deputy Mike Sievert on May 1, though Mr. Legere will keep a seat on the company's board.

Mr. Legere's severance, including cash payments and performance-based stock awards, was worth about $111 million based on recent T-Mobile share prices, according to an analysis by compensation-data firm Equilar Inc. That is separate from Mr. Legere's regular compensation for 2019, the details of which the company hasn't yet disclosed.

The compensation package "is on the higher side" compared with other corporate CEOs, said Equilar analyst Courtney Yu, though on "mergers with a long lead time until completion, it's not uncommon to see executives receive special transaction grants to incentivize them to stick around and provide stability in a period of uncertainty."

The union of the country's No. 3 and No. 4 largest cellphone carriers has sat in limbo for nearly two years, held back by lengthy reviews by federal telecom and antitrust regulators. Those federal officials eventually signed off on the merger with conditions, but a coalition of state attorneys general said the transaction would still push up wireless plan prices and sued to block it.

T-Mobile said in a 2019 securities filing that its awards to executives reflected "the immense regulatory and advocacy work associated with a merger of this size and in this industry and related business planning activities."

T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG hired Mr. Legere in 2012 after the company abandoned a planned merger with AT&T Inc. Federal antitrust enforcers at the time said adding T-Mobile, then the country's fourth-largest cellphone carrier, to AT&T would lead to higher wireless prices.

Armed with a multibillion-dollar breakup fee and valuable wireless spectrum licenses, the Bellevue, Wash., company closed a reverse merger with prepaid service provider MetroPCS and went public in 2013. T-Mobile's integration of the business now known as Metro allowed both brands to quickly steal customers from rivals like Sprint and AT&T.

Mr. Legere's total realized pay from 2013 through 2018 topped $182 million, according to Equilar. That excludes his first year with the German-owned company and his still-undisclosed 2019 pay package.

Write to Drew FitzGerald at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 12, 2020 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)

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