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AT&T Wireless Head, iPhone Executive Sigman Unexpectedly Retires

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NEW YORK (Dow Jones) AT&T's Stan Sigman, the executive responsible for bringing the iPhone to AT&T and integrating mobile operations with Cingular, announced his retirement Thursday, effective immediately.

The abrupt departure of Sigman, who served as president and chief executive of AT&T Mobility and is retiring after 42 years with the San Antonio telecommunications giant, raised eyebrows among company observers.

"I don't think Stan Sigman is going to go off and play golf," said Patrick Comack, Zachary Investment Research analyst. "I fully believe he will end up being a CEO somewhere outside the telecom space."

Sigman, listed as 59 years old in the company's annual report filed in February, was unavailable for comment.

The telecom giant replaced Sigman with Ralph de la Vega, who had been mentioned as a possible replacement for departed Sprint Nextel Chief Executive Gary Forsee. De la Vega was chief operating officer of the wireless unit from 2004 through 2006, working on the Cingular merger and the deployment of the iPhone.

"Wall Street has confidence in him," Comack said. "He's been successful and has always executed."

De la Vega's current duties as group president of regional telecom and entertainment will be added to John Stankey, group president of operations support.

Sigman, a Texan who wears cowboy boots and business suits, was the AT&T executive that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs first approached with the iPhone.

"Stan is one of the industry's most outstanding and accomplished leaders," AT&T Chief Executive and Chairman Randall Stephenson said in a press release. "Our customers, our employees and our stockholders have benefited tremendously from his unsurpassed vision, expertise and tireless commitment to growing the business."

Sigman's departure follows the retirement of Chairman and Chief Executive Edward Whitacre in June.

In recent late trading, AT&T shares rose to $42.05 from the Thursday close of $41.61. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded as low as $31.75 and as high as $42.97.

-By Steven Russolillo, Dow Jones Newswires: 201-938-2205, steven.russolillo@dowjones.com

-By Andrew Edwards, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5973; Andrew.Edwards@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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