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Thu, Mar 01, 2012

LightSquared CEO Resigns Amid Questions About Political Connections

Sanjiv Ahuja Had Ties To The White House

The CEO of LightSquared has stepped down from his post at the start-up broadband company under a cloud of questions about his political ties to the White House.

The Washington, D.C.-based Daily Caller online reports that documents and e-mails that popped up about a week ago showed several meetings between LightSquared officials and the Obama administration. Prior to his filing with the FCC for the wireless broadband network, Ahuja had given $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee ... the maximum allowable contribution. He was scheduled for a meeting at the White House the same day.

In the official announcement, the company gave no reason for the resignation. The news release announcing the move said he will continue to serve as chairman of the board, while Doug Smith, currently chief network officer, and Marc Montagner, currently chief financial officer, will be named as interim co-chief operating officers. The company will be conducting the search for the new CEO. In addition, Philip A. Falcone, CEO and CIO of Harbinger Capital Partners, has been appointed to the company’s board of directors. The CEO search is expected to be completed in the near future.

Falcone said the company is not giving up on it's plan to launch a wireless 4G LTE broadband network using both satellites and terrestrial transmitters. “LightSquared's objective, through its wholesale business model, is to provide increased competition and lower prices in the telecommunications industry, and to bring broadband cellular phone service to rural areas that currently don’t have such service and that has not and will not change," he said. "That has been our vision from day one. The absence of affordable and reliable wireless service options is frustrating for consumers, particularly in these challenging economic times.”

Ahuja had never made a political donation before, and reportedly has not since.

FMI: www.lightsquared.com, www.whitehouse.gov, www.fcc.gov

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