November 8, 2011 / 11:37 PM / 7 years ago

Einhorn criticizes Sprint management to investors

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Greenlight Capital Inc, the hedge fund run by high-profile investor David Einhorn, said Sprint Nextel “management is on the verge of losing the confidence of financial markets,” in a letter to investors.

David Einhorn, president of Greenlight Capital, speaks at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York December 7, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Greenlight complained about everything from Sprint’s quarterly results to how it handled an October 7 analyst day, described in the November 7 letter obtained by Reuters as “an investor relations meltdown.”

Einhorn criticized the wireless service provider for announcing larger than expected funding requirements at the event and failing to explain where it would seek the funding.

Sprint declined to comment on the letter.

Last Friday, the company, whose Chief Executive is Dan Hesse, tapped debt markets to raise $4 billion in a bond offering after it announced on October 26 that it would require up to $7 billion in new financing over the next few years.

Greenlight, which had a roughly 1.87 percent stake in Sprint in June, said the stock was still worth owning because the “business opportunity and asset values remain sufficient.”

But the letter went on to say “we wouldn’t be surprised if shareholders begin to agitate for significant strategic change” and suggested that one change could be a sale of Sprint.

“Given the heavy need to invest, the (Sprint) opportunity may be better pursued by a new owner with a lower cost of capital,” the letter said without making any suggestions as to who that buyer could be.

The investor also said Sprint “even managed to bungle” the announcement that it would sell the Apple Inc iPhone.

Sprint was criticized by many investors after the October 7 meeting for failing to disclose how much iPhone would cost the company. It has since disclosed that it committed to spend at least $15.5 billion over four years with Apple.

Greenlight had 55.9 million shares in Sprint, which represented 5.68 percent of its portfolio, at the end of June, according to the latest Reuters data.

Sprint shares, which have lost about half their value since May, closed down 2 cents on Tuesday at $2.89. It had closed at $3.01 before the October 7 meeting.

Reporting by Sinead Carew and Jennifer Ablan; editing by Bernard Orr

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