Today, he held his seventh speech as CEO at the DT shareholders’ meeting and, with that, his last. René Obermann, who is leaving the company at the end of the year, took stock in Cologne, Germany. DT is once again on a competitive footing, the foundation is laid. Here are the main points from his speech.
[fotoshow] Obermann on his record: We have been through a great deal of turbulence together in that time, highs and lows. There has been a great deal to work through since I took up office in 2006. One thing is for sure: The metamorphosis from a state-owned company to a modern, Internet-based network and service provider is still not complete. It is a job that takes generations. But we have addressed all the difficult issues; we have overcome scandals and rectified their causes, for example by expanding our data security and data protection. What we have achieved in the past few years is nothing less than making Deutsche Telekom competitive once again, both in Germany and abroad. We have worked very hard to achieve all the modernization our company has undergone. And for that, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and utmost respect to all of our 230,000 employees. We really have a highly dedicated and skilled body of staff. Obermann on regulation: We have made progress in the key issue of regulated network access and what is known as vectoring, which turns the copper cable into a high-speed line. It has taken a long time for it to sink in that regulation is not the same thing as strangulation. We have been struggling for many years to have the opportunity to invest more in network roll-out to safeguard our future, that of our children, and that of Germany as a place to do business. Obermann on differentiated fixed-line tariffs: In my view, there has also been a great deal of populism in play in the debate of the last few weeks surrounding our plan to differentiate with flat rates, i.e., unlimited network usage for a set price, from 2016 on. I will say it again: We want to operate the best networks, including in rural areas. We will continue to expand. And we will continue to offer flat rates. But it will unfortunately have to get a little more expensive for that small percentage of heavy users who generate many times the data traffic of average users. The alternative would be for the network to be slower for everyone or more expensive for everyone. I do not think that is ok. Faster for everyone, more expensive for a few – that is fair. So, once more to be perfectly clear, we are not limiting the speed – we are stepping on the gas! Obermann on T-Mobile US: The business combination with MetroPCS is a carefully negotiated, expedient transaction, especially for you, dear shareholders. I will just mention the expected cost synergies of 6 to 7 billion dollars and the figure of 9 million additional new customers, as well as the improved spectrum portfolio for our mobile communications network there. The success can already be seen in the first three months of this year: For the first time in years, the number of customers under our own brand grew again. We have halted the negative trend and are on track for success. Obermann on investments: Unlike many competitors, we are actually increasing our capital expenditure to almost 30 billion euros in the next three years. Our message is clear: We are investing in order to grow again. In 2014, we want to stabilize revenue in Germany, in Europe we expect revenues – adjusted for regulatory and exchange rate effects – to rise and we also anticipate growth in the United States. Obermann on the dividend: As announced, together with the Supervisory Board we propose to today's shareholders' meeting a stable dividend for the 2012 financial year of 70 euro cents per share. Obermann on his successor: Of course we want to grow again, we have already laid the foundation for it. And it was far from easy – it was hard work. It will continue to be hard work – let us not pretend otherwise. That is why we need the best in the industry for the job at the top. And that is who we are getting. I am delighted that the Supervisory Board has appointed Mr. Höttges to this position. He is the first choice. Having worked with him for 13 years, I know what I am talking about. Obermann on his departure: I had set myself the goal of making our company more competitive in all areas, of improving our brand and service, of tackling the major problems abroad, of fighting for better conditions for investment and seeking out new opportunities for growth. How you judge my work is, of course, up to you. I would only like to assure you that I will continue to fight for Deutsche Telekom to the full right up until my last day.