Deutsche Telekom said on Thursday it was seeking acquisitions to fuel growth as Europe's largest telecoms operator blamed fierce competition and staff costs for a 43% drop in annual net profit.
Hoisting an effective "for sale" sign over non-core assets such as Internet companies in France, Spain and radio towers in Germany and the United States, the group's new chief executive vowed to cut costs and revive the flagship German company.
"Our focus for growth will be abroad," said Rene Obermann, who faces analysts and investors later on Thursday for the first time as CEO since taking the helm in November. "We want to examine mobile phone acquisitions abroad."
Deutsche Telekom has been tipped as a possible acquirer of a stake in Greek peer OTE, which owns growing eastern-European assets, and of France Telecom's Orange Netherlands unit. But Obermann declined to be drawn on details.
He told a news conference only: "The most perfect possibilities to grow in foreign markets will do us no good if we fail to get a grip on our efficiency and costs at home."
Deutsche Telekom's shares, which have been on a downward trend since January, slid 2.5% to 13.22 euros, underperforming a flat broader telecoms market.
Despite shocking the market in late January with its second profit warning in six months, net profit of 3.17 billion euros ($4.2 billion) missed average analyst forecasts of 4.24 billion euros. Revenues came in at 61.3 billion euros,as expected.
But the company also disappointed some investors by leaving its dividend unchanged at 0.72 euros per share. "There were some hopes for a positive surprise regarding the dividend, but they were not fulfilled," HVB analyst Thomas Friedrich said.