Bonn Says Ron's Gone

It's been coming for a while. Ron Sommer (below, right), embattled CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and the man responsible for shelling out US$31 billion on VoiceStream Wireless Corp. at the top of the market in 1999, looks like he could be at the end of his tenure as Telekom's biggest Käse.

Word has been leaked to the German press that he will be given a wedgie by his fellow board members -- unwillingly in some cases -- and ejected from the hot seat, to be replaced by the German telco's technology chief Gerd Tenzer (below, left), who sounds as if he could benefit from a shoulder massage.

Telekom’s Supervisory Board will meet on Tuesday to make a decision, following what the company officially describes as "intense debate about Deutsche Telekom’s financial and strategic outlook in German media and political circles." With lackeys for the government (which still holds 43 percent of DT's stock) having ensured Tenzer's name made it into Monday's business newspapers, the "intense debate" appears to be at an end.

Unstrung expects Tenzer, 58, to be the sacrificial lamb that follows Sommer to the slaughterhouse. There are some uncomfortable decisions to be made at DT, not least concerning the on-off IPO of T-Mobile and the possible marriage of the U.S. wireless asset, VoiceStream, with AT&T Wireless Services Inc. (NYSE: AWE) (see AT&T/VoiceStream Rumors Rife). And the shareholders are generally pretty hacked off too -- the carrier is now worth 10 percent what it was in March 2000.

So could it be that the German government wants Tenzer to do some of the dirty work (with the promise of a mountain of euros for his retirement) before ushering in a fresher-faced youth to take the helm? Why not let us know what you think on the message boards before the whole of Europe goes to the French Riviera/Greek Islands/Tuscany/Blackpool (delete as applicable) for its summer vacation?

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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