Olaf Swantee to join Swiss Sunrise as CEO

Switzerland-based Sunrise said Olaf Swantee is to become its new CEO following the departure of Libor Voncina on May 9, thus revealing what is to be the next role for the former chief of EE in the UK.

Although Sunrise rather inaccurately described Swantee -- who is Dutch but has a Swiss wife -- as Swiss, it was right to draw on his considerable experience in various telecoms markets Europe, as chairman Lorne Somerville noted.

"For us this is an ideal transition after the fantastic work done by Libor, who made the company fit again and floated it on the stock market," Somerville said.

Sunrise also announced that Somerville, who took over as chairman after the sudden death of Dominik Koechlin, is not standing for re-election. Peter Kurer, a former chairman of UBS, is being put forward as his replacement.

Swantee joins Sunrise after a period of considerable change at the company. Only last year the operator cut 175 employees as part of "ongoing efficiency measures" to reduce costs and improve its focus on customers. At the same time, the company merged its business and residential units under a single leadership.

The job cuts came only months after Sunrise raised CHF2 billion (€1.8 billion/$2 billion) in what Bloomberg described as the biggest initial public offering on the country's stock exchange in eight years. At the time, Sunrise said it planned to use the proceeds to cut debt and strengthen its balance sheet.

Sunrise still lags far behind market leader Swisscom, which Heinz Steffen, an analyst at Fairesearch in Germany, said last year had a 59 per cent share of the mobile market compared to Sunrise's 22 per cent share. Salt Mobile -- owned by French entrepreneur Xavier Niel -- was in third place with a 19 per cent share.

In its full-year results statement for 2015, Sunrise noted that it increased postpaid mobile customer numbers last year by 6 per cent year-on-year, taking the total number to 1.4 million. However, the number of prepaid users dropped to 1 million from 1.15 million in 2014.

Revenue also declined by 4.8 per cent to CHF1.97 billion, which the company partly attributed to the strength of the Swiss franc and declines in prepaid and fixed voice businesses. Adjusted EBITDA declined by 1.8 per cent to CHF627 million, while a net loss of CHF113 million was primarily blamed on extraordinary effects in the first quarter of the year following the IPO and debt refinancing.

For 2016, revenue is expected to be in the range of CHF1.89 billion to CHF1.93 billion. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between CHF600 million and CHF620 million.

For more:
- see this Sunrise release on management changes
- see this Sunrise results statement for 2015

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