Deutsche Telekom finance chief to replace CEO Obermann

Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:14pm EST
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By Maria Sheahan and Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom chief executive Rene Obermann has unexpectedly announced he will step down at the end of 2013 and be succeeded by finance director Timotheus Hoettges.

Hoettges, 50, said on Thursday he was not planning major changes to strategy and would continue Obermann's drive of investing in the United States and Germany as the firm battles to return to revenue growth against a tough economic backdrop.

"I have worked with Obermann for 12 years, and I don't expect to change a lot in the way that we do things," he told journalists during a conference call.

He is, however, expected to bring a fresh spark to Germany's former state telecoms monopoly, as he is considered by analysts to have the energy to take on challenges and an ability to absorb knowledge. But he has a big job ahead of him.

The European telecoms industry is struggling with sluggish economic growth, costly investments and cut-throat competition, and on top of that Deutsche Telekom has had its hands full with trying to fix its troubled T-Mobile USA business.

The German government, Deutsche Telekom's biggest shareholder with a 32 percent stake, said it welcomed the choice of Hoettges as new CEO because it promised continuity.

"The chief strategist so far becoming the new captain indicates that the course will be held," a spokesperson for the finance ministry told Reuters.

Hoettges joined the group in 2000 after playing a central role in the merger of VIAG AG and VEBA AG to form E.ON, now Germany's biggest utility.   Continued...

File picture shows designated new finance chief Timotheus Hoettges (L) and Rene Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG before the annual news conference in Bonn February 27, 2009. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File