updated 12/18/2007 8:18:25 AM ET 2007-12-18T13:18:25

Wireless carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. named Daniel Hesse as president and chief executive Tuesday, ending a two-month search to replace Gary Forsee, who was forced out in October over falling subscriber numbers.

Hesse previously served as president and chief executive of Embarq Corp., Sprint’s former local-phone unit that was spun off as a public company last year.

Paul Saleh had been the interim CEO at Sprint Nextel, which is based in Reston, Va., but has its operations in Overland Park, Kan. Sprint Nextel is the nation’s No. 3 wireless company, but it has been falling further behind leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless.

“Dan’s mandate is to hone our strategy, improve our ability to serve our customers and execute in the marketplace,” said James Hance, non-executive chairman, in a statement.

Hesse also was president and CEO of AT&T Wireless from 19997 to 2000.

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