February 29, 2012 / 6:55 PM / 6 years ago

LightSquared eyes ex-Nextel head for CEO job - source

NEW YORK, Feb 29 (Reuters) - LightSquared, the beleaguered telecom start-up founded by hedge fund manager Philip Falcone, is considering hiring telecommunications veteran Timothy Donahue as Chief Executive Officer, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The company said on Tuesday it was searching for a new CEO after Sanjiv Ahuja resigned from the job, but it did not name any candidates.

LightSquared referred a request for comment to Lew Phelps, a spokesman for Falcone’s hedge fund, Harbinger Capital. Phelps declined comment and Donahue could not immediately be reached.

Donahue, the former Chief Executive of Nextel - now part of Sprint Nextel Corp, could potentially help LightSquared fight its case in Washington, where regulators are looking to revoke the company’s permission to build a high speed wireless network.

The person who asked not to be named said Nextel’s history was a factor in LightSquared’s interest in Donahue, who retired as Sprint’s Chairman at the end of 2006, just under a year and a half after Sprint’s 2005 purchase of Nextel.

Another source told Reuters on Tuesday that LightSquared already had a shortlist of candidates with experience in the telecommunications industry and dealing with Washington politics.

During his time at Nextel one of Donahue’s biggest tasks was to work with the Federal Communications Commission on a spectrum rebanding project to overcome concerns about interference between Nextel’s network and public safety services.

Just two weeks ago, the FCC said it would revoke LightSquared’s permission to build a high-speed wireless network because tests showed it could interfere with Global Positioning Systems on which services such as airline navigation were dependent.

That decision was a massive blow for LightSquared, which had expected to start building its network this year. But the company has indicated it will not back down in its fight to win approval to build a wireless network.

Falcone, who has joined the LightSquared board, said in a statement on Tuesday that the company was “committed to working with the appropriate entities to find a solution to the recent regulatory issues.”

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