* Obermann said he wanted to be “closer to engine room”
* Obermann to take over from January 2014
* Ziggo listed in Amsterdam in March 2012 (Adds background, analyst comments)
BRUSSELS, March 7 (Reuters) - Dutch cable operator Ziggo has named Deutsche Telekom boss Rene Obermann as its chief executive from January 2014, highlighting the appeal of cable groups over legacy telecom providers.
Obermann will replace Bernard Dijkhuizen, who will retire next year and continue to lead the Dutch company until then, the group said late on Wednesday.
While Obermann’s move from a major telecom operator to a smaller cable group may seem surprising, it reflects the rising fortunes of Europe’s cable groups, which are growing healthily and stealing broadband and TV customers from telcos.
“He may just be making the same transition that many of his customers, investors and analysts have made in switching from copper to cable,” Espirito Santo analyst Nick Brown wrote in a note to clients.
In Obermann’s old market of Germany, Deutsche Telekom cannot match the high Internet speeds and low prices of Kabel Deutschland and Liberty Global’s Unity Media , and is embarking on a massive investment programme to try to catch up.
Deutsche Telekom said in December that Obermann would leave the group after six years at the helm and be replaced by the current chief financial officer Timotheus Hoettges.
Obermann said at the time that he would leave for a smaller company where he could be “closer to the engine room”.
Ziggo was listed on the Amsterdam exchange in March 2012 by private equity firms Cinven and Warburg Pincus, which have brought down their stake in the group ever since.
Warburg Pincus and Cinven initially invested in Multikabel in 2005, and then embarked on a build-up strategy, adding Casema and Essent Kabelcom both in 2006 and @Home in 2007, after which the company was rebranded as Ziggo.
The group, which has 2.9 million TV customers and 1.8 million broadband subscribers, competes with Liberty’s local brand UPC, telecoms group KPN, and increasingly Swedish group Tele 2. Obermann’s task will be to make sure that Ziggo gets ahead.
The appointment of Obermann must be approved at a general shareholders meeting on April 18, Ziggo said. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Leila Abboud; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Mark Potter)