FRAMINGHAM (03/09/2000) - AT&T Corp. announced the replacement of its Wireless Services CEO today, which analysts called another in a progression of departures of top executive talent at the nation's phone companies.
Mohan Gyani, 48, will succeed Daniel R. Hesse as president and CEO of AT&T's Wireless Services unit. Hesse, an industry veteran, is moving to become CEO of TerraBeam Networks in Seattle.
John Zeglis, chairman of AT&T's wireless group, said Gyani will focus on expanding the wireless coverage area for AT&T and expand growth in wireless data services.
Analysts said the departure of Hesse follows several others among AT&T's top talent in recent months, because of attractive stock options and salary opportunities at other companies - especially start-up dot-coms.
Also, AT&T Chairman Michael Armstrong is viewed as a "general, and there's a cultural clash going on with entrenched executives at AT&T with a different style," said independent telecommunications analyst Jeffery Kagan in Atlanta.
"These people would stay at AT&T and put up with the personality clashes if there weren't huge opportunities in the market," Kagan said.
Despite AT&T's executive departures, Kagan said he believes the company is positioned as the strongest or second strongest wireless carrier in the U.S., alongside Sprint PCS in Kansas City, Mo. AT&T wireless has 12 million subscribers nationwide.
Hesse helped AT&T pioneer flat-rate pricing for wireless users, which moved toward blending the barrier between pricing plans for wireline and wireless calls.
AT&T, in Basking Ridge, N.Y., plans to conduct an initial public offering of AT&T Wireless Group tracking shares following a March 14 shareholder vote.
Kagan said AT&T still expects to control most of the shares.