Deutsche Telekom has appointed the former head of its profitable T-Mobile phone business as the company’s chief executive officer (CEO).
Rene Obermann joined the German network operator in 1998, working his way up the ladder to become a board member and head of the group’s mobile phone division, the company said Monday.
Obermann succeeds Kai-Uwe Ricke, who resigned Sunday after a meeting with the supervisory board.
Ricke was appointed CEO on Nov. 15, 2002, to succeed Ron Sommer, who lost his job after plunging Europe’s largest telecommunications service provider into debt and allowing its stock to free-fall. Sommer spent billions of euros acquiring third-generation mobile phone licenses and expanding the company’s footprint through international acquisitions, such as VoiceStream Wireless in the United States.
At the helm of Deutsche Telekom, Ricke successfully reduced the group’s debt from more than 65 billion euros (US$83.5 billion) to less than 40 billion euros at the end of September. But he was unable to stop declining revenue in its traditional landline business, as competitors with lower fixed costs nibbled away at its customer base for voice services.
One of Obermann’s immediate challenges will be to dam the flow of customers to rivals.
-John Blau, IDG News Service (Dusseldorf Bureau)
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