DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - The chief executive of Deutsche Telekom praised the performance of its T-Mobile US business while declining to comment on renewed merger speculation in the American mobile market.
Deutsche Telekom has long sought a buyer for T-Mobile US, which accounts for most of its profits and growth. It has talked in the past to Sprint, AT&T and Dish but more recently has indicated it wants to keep control.
“We are extremely successful in the U.S. Our growth is double-digit in the U.S. We added a million subscribers for 14 quarters in a row. The U.S. is bigger than our European business and our management there is fantastic,” Tim Hoettges said.
His comments to reporters late on Monday were made before news broke that Sprint, the fourth largest mobile operator in the U.S., was in talks with cable companies Charter Communications and Comcast about a partnership.
Shares in Deutsche Telekom were down 2.1 percent by 0810 GMT on Tuesday, at the bottom of the STOXX Europe 600 Telecommunications index which was down 0.9 percent.
“The probability for this transaction gets hit hard,” a Frankfurt-based trader said about a potential deal between Sprint and T-Mobile US. “Still, the company is also very attractive on a standalone basis.”
Sources told Reuters on Monday that an agreement between Sprint and the cable providers over its network does not preclude Sprint from seeking a merger agreement with T-Mobile. Deutsche Telekom has 64 percent control of T-Mobile US.
Hoettges declined to give any comment about possible consolidation in the United States, saying only that the market remained more attractive than Europe.
“The conditions of the U.S. market are clearly better. There are consistent policies for a single market of 330 million customers, while in Europe we can’t get it done. The market is too regulated,” Hoettges said.
Earlier this year, Reuters reported Softbank, which owns the majority of Sprint, was prepared to give up control of Sprint to T-Mobile US to clinch a merger of the two U.S. wireless carriers, according to people familiar with the matter.
Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Keith Weir