Definitive word on the $35 billion merger of






is expected this week, news reports said.

Sprint plans to exchange the equivalent of 1.3 of its shares for every Nextel share, with a portion of that coming in cash to ensure that Sprint shareholders end up with a small majority of the combined company,

The Wall Street Journal

reported Monday. An announcement could come Wednesday.

Sprint CEO Gary Forsee is expected to take the CEO job, while Nextel chief Tim Donahue becomes executive chairman, according to


and the


. The company will be named Sprint-Nextel and be headquartered in Nextel's Reston, Va., offices, with its operations center in Overland Park, Kan., Sprint's home base, according to reports.

Sprint is expected to spin off its local phone business prior to the close of the proposed deal.

Sprint shares closed down slightly Friday but rose 2% in after-hours trading. Nextel also closed down a nickel but traded up about 1% in the postclose session.

Investors and analysts say Nextel's walkie-talkie advantage and loyal following had taken the company to a level of success it probably couldn't sustain in the face of new services and broader pressure from No. 1 and 2 players



Verizon Wireless


Sprint, meanwhile, needs a way to enter the business market and also beef up its scale as the No. 3 player.

Though both companies declined to comment, one person familiar with the companies said the deal was "almost" done.