T-Mobile (TMUS) CEO John Legere, who has been set to remain chief executive of the combined company that will result from its merger with Sprint (S), is one of a number of people in talks to take over the top job at WeWork parent We Co., a source familiar with the matter told CNN Business. The struggling office sharing startup has been searching for a new leader to bring stability after a botched IPO led to the ouster of co-founder and now-former CEO Adam Neumann. The talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
If he does end up at We Co., Legere would be leaving T-Mobile at a crucial time. T-Mobile and Sprint are the third and fourth largest wireless carriers, and though their combination has been blessed by the FCC and the US Justice Department, 15 states and the District of Columbia are suing to block the deal over concerns about what the proposed $26 billion merger could mean for the marketplace.
The lawsuit by the state attorneys general is expected to go to trial next month. T-Mobile and Sprint have said they will not seek to close their merger unless the court rules in their favor, and have made a number of commitments about their services in an attempt to get opponents on board.
T-Mobile’s stock fell around 2.5% Monday afternoon following the news of Legere’s talks with WeWork.
The talks may point to the influence that Japanese holding company SoftBank (SFTBF), which owns a majority stake in Sprint, may have in the new combined wireless company. Under the merger deal, the new company will be controlled by T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom (DTEGF), while SoftBank (SFTBF) will own around a quarter of the merged entity.
SoftBank also owns the majority of WeWork, after bailing it out in the midst of fallout over Neumann, and has pumped billions of dollars into the company that it stands to lose if it can’t right the ship.
Legere is known for his success in turning around T-Mobile in recent years. He has transformed the company from a struggling carrier with below average coverage to the fastest growing network in the country. The merger with Sprint would make it a formidable competitor to larger wireless players Verizon and AT&T, which owns CNN.
Legere, like Neumann, also has a nontraditional leadership style. He’s a Twitter fanatic, has sparred with President Donald Trump and other executives and is almost always seen rocking T-Mobile magenta. Legere and Neumann also share similar hairstyles.
But Legere could bring the leadership chops to WeWork that Neumann lacked, according to Tim Hubbard, a professor of management at University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
“Hiring John Legere would serve as a signal to the market that the company wants to increase its legitimacy without losing its core, radical nature,” Hubbard said.
WeWork is currently being run by former co-president and CFO Artie Minson and former vice chairman Sebastian Gunningham, who were named co-CEOs after Neumann stepped down in September.
SoftBank declined to comment for this story, and T-Mobile did not immediately return a request for comment.
Sara Ashley O’Brien contributed to this report