Sprint (FON) and Nextel (NXTL) have struck a tentative merger agreement, according to news reports.

Though many of the details seemed to be uncertain, Sprint has offered the equivalent of 1.3 shares for each share of Nextel, with part of the consideration to be paid in cash to assure that Sprint controls more than 50% of the combined company, according to

The Wall Street Journal


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 it 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.