Telekom Austria CEO foresees increased foreign investment in Europe

The CEO of Telekom Austria, Hannes Ametsreiter, has told that he expects to see increased investment in the European telecom sector and that some European telcos might see their headquarters shift outside of the region as a result.

Telekom Austria is itself part owned by Mexican billionaire and America Movil CEO Carlos Slim, who is reportedly keen to take full ownership of the Austrian incumbent.

Ametsreiter insisted that he was speaking in general terms and not about his own organisation, although Reuters has today cited sources “familiar with the matter” as saying a move for increased ownership from Slim is imminent.

“I believe we will see more consolidation in Europe, I believe international players from outside Europe will make acquisitions and I believe this means that the headquarters of some European operators might move outside of the region,” Ametsreiter told, adding:  “I am not talking about us, that is not the case. I just see that there are many rumours in the industry that show there is a lot of interest from international investors in Europe.”

Ametsreiter also hit out at European regulation, which he said is stopping Europe from retaking its position as the world’s leading telecommunications market.

“Regulation in Europe, over the last five years, has weakened the industry significantly,” he said. “There is a very simple measure of the impact of this regulation and that is EBITDA multiples. If the margins of European telcos were higher than the rest of the world then I would say that the regulation had done a good job. But at the moment the EBITDA multiples of European telecommunication companies are the lowest in the world. I believe it will be a tough job to bring Europe back to the position we held ten years ago, when we were leading the world.”

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