With the glaring exception of BT, Europe\'s biggest operators have weathered the economic conditions in good style and to be regarded as safe havens by investors - until Deutsche Telekom\'s announcement yesterday.
The Financial Times reports that DT\'s shares fell as much as 10% after its CEO RenÃ© Obermann said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) would be between â‚¬18.7 billion and â‚¬19.1 billion for 2009. Fewer than eight weeks ago, the German incumbent said ebitda would be â‚¬19.5 billion.
Shares in TelefÃ³nica, France Telecom and BT also fell at the news.
Obermann was reported saying that deteriorating economic conditions, tough competition and currency losses had led to disappointing revenue in the US, the UK and Poland, driving first-quarter group ebitda down 5% to â‚¬4.5 billion.
He admitted that problems in the US and the UK were "also in part structural", in a statement that is likely to resurrect speculation about DT\'s operations, which trail behind much bigger rivals -Verizon and AT&T in the US and O2 and Vodafone in the UK.
Obermann said DT was planning to go ahead with investment in 3G in the US and plans to replace management in the UK.
Speculation that DT could sell its UK unit to BT has been rife for some time (see today\'s analystwire on the future of fixed broadband without a mobile strategy. The problem is of course, that the UK incumbent is so strapped for cash. Nevertheless, if it doesn\'t want to become a take-over target itself, it could do worse than convince shareholders that acquiring T-Mobile UK would make a great deal of sense.