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17. Sprint Nextel
17. Sprint Nextel
Fortune 500 rank: 85
2010 revenue: $32.6 billion
10-year annualized return: -12.4%

It's been called one of the decade's worst acquisitions, and there's no argument here. In 2005 Sprint paid $36 billion for Nextel, then a high-flying wireless provider with a cool walkie-talkie function on its phones. By then Nextel had peaked in popularity, and just three years later Sprint wrote down Nextel's value by $30 billion.

Sprint Nextel is now in the process of closing Nextel's iDEN network for good. It's a long and expensive task, and a reminder of the steep price shareholders have paid for management's mistakes.



NEXT: 18. Gannett
Last updated May 05 2011: 2:52 PM ET
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