John Legere got $137 million severance for completing T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Then-T-Mobile CEO John Legere testifying at a Congressional committee hearing.
Enlarge / Then-T-Mobile CEO John Legere testifies before the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee on March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

T-Mobile paid then-CEO John Legere $137.2 million in 2020, a year in which he worked three months and then left on the day he completed T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint.

Legere’s 2020 compensation was revealed yesterday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (see pages 49 and 50). Legere was previously paid $27.8 million in the full year of 2019 and $66.5 million in 2018, mostly in the form of stock awards. His 2020 compensation of $137.2 million did not include any stock awards—instead, it consisted of a $136.55 million severance payment, $600,000 in salary, and $50,000 in reimbursement for legal fees.

Mike Sievert, who replaced Legere as CEO, received $54.9 million in stock awards, salary, bonuses, and incentives in 2020, up from $16.4 million in 2019 and $35.6 million in 2018. He was previously the COO.

Legere’s lobbying paid off for him and T-Mobile

Legere left T-Mobile’s top job on April 1, 2020, the same day T-Mobile completed its $31 billion acquisition of Sprint. Legere announced the Sprint acquisition in April 2018 and spent much of his final two years as CEO lobbying the Trump administration for approval of the merger. Legere had been the CEO since September 2012.

Legere was originally slated to remain as CEO of the combined T-Mobile and Sprint after the merger, but in November 2019, he announced he would leave upon the merger closing. Legere also resigned from the T-Mobile board of directors on April 24, 2020, “to pursue other options” despite previously saying he would remain on the board until June.

T-Mobile secured merger approval from Trump’s Justice Department in July 2019 and the Ajit Pai-led Federal Communications Commission in October 2019. T-Mobile completed its merger before getting approval from California state telecom regulators and tried to get out of merger conditions imposed by the state. The state Public Utilities Commission partially granted the request, giving T-Mobile until the end of 2026 to provide average 5G speeds of 300Mbps to 93 percent of California, two years later than the original deadline.

California rejected T-Mobile’s request to rely on FCC drive testing to confirm compliance with the network expansion requirement, rejecting T-Mobile’s argument that the state’s plan to do its own drive testing “is duplicative and unnecessary.”

T-Mobile cut jobs despite Legere’s promise to add jobs

The state utility commission also refused to eliminate a requirement that T-Mobile add 1,000 full-time jobs in California within three years.

Nationwide, T-Mobile has cut at least 5,000 jobs since completing its acquisition of Sprint, despite Legere claiming in a blog post that the combined company “will have more than 11,000 additional employees on our payroll by 2024 compared to what the combined standalone companies would have.” T-Mobile employed 75,000 full-time and part-time workers as of December 31, 2020.

“We knew that T-Mobile couldn’t be trusted to keep its promises,” the Communications Workers of America union told Ars last month. “That’s why we pushed for enforceable commitments from T-Mobile on jobs during the merger process. Regulators need to take a close look at what’s happening at T-Mobile and get serious about protecting jobs as part of their oversight of corporate mergers.”