DT plays musical chairs in Romania and Slovakia

Anne Morris
By Anne Morris

Aug 18, 2021

  • Dina Tsybulskaya appointed CEO of Romanian mobile unit
  • Reports say her mission is to prepare the unit for sale
  • Slovak Telekom undergoing management reshuffle following reorg

Deutsche Telekom (DT) has just engaged in a bit of management reshuffling at its operations in eastern Europe. It’s also been suggested that the newly appointed chief executive of Telekom Romania’s mobile operations has been tasked with the mission of selling the business in the next two years.

It’s complicated

DT has already agreed to sell its fixed-line business in Romania to Orange Romania, and the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021. Greece’s OTE, which directly owns the Romanian operations and in which DT holds a controlling 45% stake, is selling its 54% stake in Telekom Romania Communications (TRMC) to Orange for €268 million. 

Following this transaction, the DT group will retain a mobile-only business in Romania called Telekom Romania Mobile Communications (TRMC ) via a 70% stake held by OTE. It has now just been announced that Dina Tsybulskaya, currently CEO of DT-owned Crnogorski Telekom, is to take on the CEO role at TRMC with effect from 1 September 2021.

It’s not yet clear who will replace her at the Montenegrin operator, although DT said it expects to announce the new CEO of Crnogorski Telekom at the end of next week. Vladan Pekovič, who was appointed CEO of Telekom Romania in November 2020, is to remain CEO of TRC until the Orange transaction has been completed.

Given DT’s focus on converged fixed and mobile players in Europe, it had always seemed likely that TRMC would be sold off at some point. However, Charalampos Mazarakis, chief financial officer of OTE, said during an earnings call in March that the Greek operator had no immediate plans to exit Romania in full.

Now, the suggestion is that Tsybulskaya has been brought on board to prepare TRMC for a sale within the next two years, according to a report by Romanian news site Ziarul Financiar (ZF), which quoted unidentified sources.

The news site did not speculate on who might buy the mobile division. It’s always possible that local rivals Vodafone and even Orange could be interested. Notably, Czech investment group PPF Group NV, United Group and RCS&RDS-owned Digi were previously cited as potential buyers of the fixed-line TRC business. For sure, United Group has been active of late, recently snapping up Wind Hellas in Greece. However, the group tends to focus on markets where it can secure complementary fixed and mobile operations, and does not appear to have any other operations in Romania.

Over in Slovakia…

Amid all the Romanian intrigue, there has been some activity at DT’s Slovakian operator, too. DT confirmed that Pekovič has already taken on a new role at Slovak Telekom (ST).

A DT spokesperson said Pekovič was appointed chief IT and technology officer for ST as well as T-Mobile Czech Republic, starting 17 August 2021. Pekovic will hold this position “in parallel with his tenure as CEO of Telekom Romania Communications, ensuring a smooth transition until the transaction’s completion”, the spokesperson said. 

The Zive news site reported that Pekovič is replacing Branimir Marič at the Slovakian operator. ST, which is also said to be splitting its retail business into two divisions, enterprise (B2B) and mass market (B2C), reportedly appointed Peter Laco to head up the enterprise market unit and Mladen Mitič as director of the mass market business. 

Mitič, said to be replacing Dušan Švalek, currently holds the position of VP B2B EU Growth at DT. Laco joined Slovak Telekom in September 2020. Marič is said to be leaving the group at the end of August while Švalek is apparently leaving ST on 31 December 2021. 

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