Deutsche Telekom CEO plays it cool on T-Mobile

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Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges.
Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges.

Deutsche Telekom is "not in the mood" to sell T-Mobile US, its chief executive said yesterday, although it is watching for any change in the US regulatory environment under Donald Trump's administration.

Deutsche Telekom, which owns 65% of T-Mobile US, has twice tried to sell in the past five years. Both attempts foundered on regulatory objections.

Since then, T-Mobile has made a turnaround and is growing every quarter, overtaking Sprint as the third-largest wireless operator in the US.

That has transformed Deutsche Telekom's position, CEO Tim Hoettges said.

"We are not in the mood of selling the business. We are not in the mood of: 'Oh where is the partner we need?'" he told investors at the Morgan Stanley annual TMT conference.

T-Mobile US is now almost as big as Deutsche Telekom's German business, bringing in EUR2.156 billion in adjusted EBITDA, just below the 2.25 billion Germany generated in the third quarter.

Last month, T-Mobile US again raised its forecast for customer additions for the year after adding 969 000 post-paid customers in the third quarter ended 30 September, up from 890 000 in the second quarter.

Analysts have suggested T-Mobile US is Deutsche Telekom's only opportunity to grow.

"We are now open to how we could create something beyond our execution, which is creating value," Hoettges said.

Repeating what he told investors last week at Deutsche Telekom's third-quarter earnings but using stronger language, Hoettges said he was hoping the political landscape would change and make a deal possible.

"We compare a lot of variables. With Trump, the regulatory environment might change. Everybody is expecting this. At least the chance is bigger than it was under the Democrats," he said.

"All of this is helping us to be open and try to improve our situation. I am not afraid about whether a [pure] mobile player can survive in this environment. If there are any options, we are going to consider," Hoettges said.

Shares in T-Mobile US hit an all-time high last week as investors saw a greater chance of an acquisition being approved under the Trump administration due to take office early next year.

T-Mobile has a market capitalisation of around $44 billion.

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