Sprint-Nextel Drops 401(k) Match

Sprint Nextel Corp. on Monday joined a growing roster of employers scrambling to make companywide cost reductions including suspending their 2009 401(k) match.

A news release from the communications company said its $1.2-billion expense reduction program also included an extension of a 2008 suspension of annual salary increases through 2009, and a suspension of its tuition reimbursement program for 2009.

The core of the Sprint-Nextel cost-cutting efforts was the elimination of approximately 8,000 positions expected to be largely completed by March 31.The reduction total includes approximately 850 positions expected to be eliminated under a voluntary separation plan started late last year.

“Labor reductions are always the most difficult action to take, but many companies are finding it necessary in this environment,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, in the announcement.

The company said it repaid $2 billion in debt in the second half of 2008, and renegotiated its credit facility terms with the expectation of sufficient liquidity to pay debt coming due during the next two years.