Vodafone Chooses Telekom Austria Chief for German Turnaround

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Vodafone Group Plc named Hannes Ametsreiter head of its German unit, handing the $13 billion business of one of the mobile-phone company’s most important markets to the outgoing Telekom Austria AG chief executive officer.

Ametsreiter, 48, replaces Jens Schulte-Bockum, whose resignation was announced in May with Vodafone’s annual results. Ametsreiter will start on Oct. 1, Vodafone said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.

Germany, Vodafone’s largest country by sales, reported service revenue that shrank 3.1 percent last quarter. as it lost customers to Deutsche Telekom AG. The declines prompted the company to announce changes to its marketing strategy and network investment.

The future of the German business is also thrown into doubt as Vodafone holds talks with billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global Plc. Vodafone announced on June 5 that it was in discussions about possible asset swaps with Liberty, and the two businesses have competed for cable assets in Germany, including Vodafone’s Kabel Deutschland Holding AG.

Ametsreiter has had difficult jobs before. Since he took over as chief executive officer of Telekom Austria in 2009, the company’s shares fell more than 40 percent as competition with Deutsche Telekom and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. cut into revenue. It attracted the interest of Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB, which became the Austrian company’s largest shareholder and introduced a series of cost cuts and new services. He leaves Telekom Austria on July 31.

Telekom Austria’s revenue for the year ending in Dec. 2014 was 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion), about a third of Vodafone Germany’s revenue for the full year ending in March.

Vodafone’s shares were unchanged at 233.10 pence in London trading at 2:28 p.m.

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