COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) will consider any partner that can improve profitability at its U.S. operations, its chief executive told the company's annual shareholders meeting.
Chief Executive Tim Hoettges said on Thursday T-Mobile US TMUS.N, of which Deutsche Telekom owns 66 percent, was in much better shape than two years ago.
"But it is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US," he added. "If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it."
T-Mobile US, the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States, has turned around years of subscriber losses with cut-price deals, savvy marketing and well-publicized wireless plans in recent quarters.
The turn-around comes as the U.S. telecoms market consolidates, with mobile operators expanding their services into fixed-line connections, broadband and television.
On Wednesday, European telecoms group Altice ATCE.AS agreed to buy U.S. regional cable company Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion. And last week Verizon (VZ.N) agreed to buy AOL for $4.4 billion, while AT&T (T.N) is still waiting for regulatory approval for its $48.5 billion purchase of DirectTV DTV.O, the No. 1 U.S. satellite TV provide.
Deutsche Telekom last year tried to sell T-Mobile US to Sprint (S.N) but the No. 3 U.S. carrier dropped its bid after regulatory resistance.
Hoettges told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that Deutsche Telekom was under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, something he has said before.
"Customer are literally flocking to us," he said. T-Mobile added more than 8 million new customers in 2014, the strongest growth in the company's history, he said.
Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter