Telecom Lead Europe: Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Rene Obermann will step down in 2013. Finance director Timotheus Hoettges will be the new CEO.
Hoettges said 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 said.
Obermann, with Deutsche Telekom since 1998, became the youngest-ever chief executive of a German blue-chip company at the time when he took over in 2006 at just 43.
His image has been that of a low-key leader, eager to keep unions and politicians happy and wary of taking big strategic decisions.
One of his boldest moves was a deal to sell troubled T-Mobile USA to AT&T, but it collapsed last year amid concerns from competition regulators, dealing a blow to Obermann’s reputation.
T-Mobile USA was a strong growth engine for Deutsche Telekom in its early days but is a rundown asset now that has been hemorrhaging customers for a while.
Hoettges promises to bring a fresh spark to Deutsche Telekom, as he is considered by analysts to have the energy to take on challenges and an ability to absorb knowledge.
Hoettges joined the group in 2000 after playing a central role in the merger of VIAG AG – where he was a member of the extended management board – and VEBA AG to form E.ON, now Germany’s biggest utility.
He was promoted to finance chief at Deutsche Telekom in 2009 and, among other things, oversaw the move to put its British mobile business in a joint venture with France Telecom.
Hoettges said the company had not yet decided on a new finance director to replace him.