Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, Tim Hoettges, says that his company is always looking for opportunities to consolidate its position in Europe, following the successful merger of T-Mobile and Sprint in the US.
The long awaited and much debated merger between the US’ third and fourth biggest telcos has left T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, surveying the lie of the land closer to home.
“Europe is too fragmented,” Hoettges said in a phone interview with journalists from Bloomberg. “Wherever I see a deal or an opportunity for European market consolidation that’s convincing, then I would always look at that with the partners,” he said.
T-Mobile and Sprint’s $26.5 billion merger has reduced the US from a four player to a three player market, with the newly merged entity having the scale and scope to challenge AT&T and Verizon for market dominance. The merger was subject to almost two years of debate by the FCC and the Department of Justice over whether it would detrimentally reduce competition for consumers.
Europe’s regulatory authority, the European Commission, remains firmly committed to its policy of pushing for four mobile network operators per country, arguing that this safeguards competition and choice for consumers. However, in smaller European nations this has proved problematic. In Belgium for example, where the 11.4 million population is already split into two distinct markets (the French speaking Walloon and the Flemish speaking Flemish people), the four operator minimum seems a touch superfluous.
Speaking again to Bloomberg, Hottges said that he had been focussing his attention on facilitating the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile in the States but that he would now turn his attention to convincing Europe’s regulatory body that telcos need to be allowed to consolidate their positions.
“Of course I was very much focused on America,” Hoettges said. “But I will work with verve on changing the regulatory and antitrust-law framework [in Europe]” to help bring about the consolidation that Europe needs, he said.