November 11, 2002, 11:50 AM — Deutsche Telekom AG (DT) is expected to appoint a new chief executive officer at its supervisory board meeting on Thursday, a company spokesman said Monday.
The top candidate is Kai-Uwe Ricke, currently head of the group's wireless division, according to reports published Monday in the German business newspaper Handelsblatt and The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with a supervisory board meeting last Friday.
Ricke has been on the list of potential candidates ever since the German government ousted DT's former CEO Ron Sommer in July. But only after a string of top European executives said they weren't interested in the job has his name cropped to the top of the list.
The German government, which owns 43 percent of DT and orchestrated Sommer's ousting, said it wanted a replacement by November. And 72-year old Helmut Sihler, DT's interim CEO, has said in interviews with the German press that he wants to hand over the reins by the end of this month at the very latest.
If Ricke, 41, is appointed as expected, he will follow in the footsteps of his father, Helmut, who headed the German telecom giant during its transition from being an arm of the postal administration to becoming an independent, global telephone company, though majority owned by the government.
The younger Ricke left his job as CEO of the small telephone reseller Talkline GmbH & Co. KG in Elmshorn, Germany, to head DT's German mobile operations and later its global activities. Amicable and energetic, he is viewed as the chief architect of the group's huge investments in 3G (third-generation) mobile broadband licenses and international expansion, including the acquisition of former Voicestream Wireless Corp., which has been renamed T-Mobile USA Inc.
If appointed, wireless-minded Ricke will likely hang onto T-Mobile USA, which he sees as a key player in the group's international wireless strategy, despite calls from the financial community to unload the U.S. wireless operations to lower the group's staggering debt of more than