February 1, 2008 / 12:24 AM / 11 years ago

Sprint sees Nextel write-off of up to $31 billion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp said on Thursday that it might have to write off all of the $30.7 billion goodwill value from its purchase of Nextel Communications and smaller deals as it struggles with customer losses.

The No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider said in a regulatory filing that it found in an annual goodwill review that the mobile unit’s net book value exceeded fair value.

Sprint said that in a second review it would measure the resulting fourth-quarter impairment charge, which could represent “a substantial portion or potentially all” of the $30.7 billion goodwill on its balance sheet.

The charge will not affect the company’s current cash balance or future cash flows, nor will it result in any violation of its debt covenants, Sprint said.

“We’re sound financially,” spokesman James Fisher said. “We’ve good cash liquidity.”

Sprint has had trouble holding onto customers in the last few years as it struggled to integrate its 2005 purchase of Nextel Communications for about $35 billion. It has also had problems with its network and customer service.

The company, whose Chief Financial Officer Paul Saleh left last week, also bought several affiliates to overcome legal disputes related to the Nextel deal.

It recently appointed Dan Hesse as chief executive, replacing Gary Forsee, who left last year.

Sprint shares, which have fallen almost 60 percent since the Nextel purchase, were up 7 cents at $10.43 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Reporting by Tiffany Wu and Sinead Carew, editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Gerald E. McCormick

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