Swisscom CEO quits as govt stalls expansion plans

Swisscom AG has been forced to replace Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jens Alder after he quit over government opposition to his international expansion plans, the telecommunications operator said Friday in a statement.

Carsten Schloter, previously in charge of the carrier’s mobile phone division, will replace Alder as Swisscom new CEO.

Alder’s resignation comes as Swisscom battles with its majority shareholder, the Swiss government, over the company’s future strategy.

In November, the Swiss Finance Ministry unexpectedly stopped Swisscom from making any foreign acquisitions. The operator had been in advanced talks to acquire Ireland’s Eircom Group PLC, and was also rumored at the time to be considering a bid for Denmark’s TDC A/S.

The Swiss government has since clarified its position, saying that the ban on acquisitions applies only to fixed-line operators.

Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest mobile and fixed-line operator and the country’s former monopoly telephone company, has been trying for several years to expand outside its home base in a move to generate new revenue streams — so far without any luck.

The telco has failed repeatedly to acquire attractive international assets, including neighboring Telekom Austria AG, or Cesky Telecom AS in the Czech Republic, in addition to its more recent attempts.

Last year, it sold one of its few small foreign assets, a majority stake in German mobile phone reseller Debitel AG, after failing to turn the venture into a viable business.

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