Carsten Schloter, Swisscom AG’s chief executive officer for seven years, was found dead at his home today in what police said is a suspected suicide.
There’s a “very high” probability Schloter, 49, killed himself, said Pierre-Andre Waeber, a spokesman for the police. The company said it’s in mourning and won’t disclose any further details out of consideration for his family. Switzerland’s largest phone company named Urs Schaeppi, head of its Swiss business, interim CEO.
“A leading actor in the Swiss economy has been lost,” Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard said in a statement. “Carsten Schloter successfully positioned Swisscom in a highly competitive and rapidly changing market.”
Schloter, a German citizen, joined Bern-based Swisscom in 2000 and became CEO in 2006. He helped lead the purchase of Fastweb SpA, an Italian fixed-line provider, in 2007. The Swiss company paid about 4.6 billion euros ($6 billion) for the unit to make up for slowing growth in Switzerland.
The deal has failed to reverse Swisscom’s fortune. The company had its first quarterly loss in more than a decade in the fourth quarter of 2011 due to a 1.2 billion-franc ($1.3 billion) writedown for Fastweb.
Swisscom’s boards and workforce are “deeply saddened and pass on their condolences to the family and relatives,” Chairman Hansueli Loosli said in a statement. Christian Neuhaus, a spokesman for Swisscom, declined to comment further.
The shares fell 0.8 percent to 413.7 Swiss francs as of 4:29 p.m. in Zurich after rising as much as 0.5 percent in earlier trading.
Swisscom, like most European carriers, is coping with sluggish consumer demand as competitive pressure pushes phone bills down across the continent. The company has been experimenting with new offerings to attract customers. It has said such initiatives will raise costs, at least temporarily.
Schloter previously worked at Mercedes-Benz and Debitel, according to Swisscom’s website. He had three children.