July 17, 2002, 9:54 AM — Ron Sommer took the center stage for the last time on Tuesday night to announce his resignation as chief executive officer (CEO) of Deutsche Telekom AG (DT). The German executive, once viewed as the wunderkind of German business, made a final bow to applauding investors eager to see a new management team reduce the telecom company's soaring debt load and bolster its slumping shares.
The problem is that new management team doesn't exist yet and could take up to six months to build. Sommer's abrupt exit was prompted by German political leaders who wanted the embattled executive out before September elections.
In the interim, Helmut Sihler, a 72-year old member of DT's supervisory board and vice chairman of the board of Swiss drug company Novartis AG, will serve as temporary CEO together with his deputy Gerd Tenzer, a DT board member and company veteran in charge of technology.
Sihler has already made it clear that one of his top priorities, in addition to finding a Sommer replacement, will be to reduce DT's huge