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UPDATE 2-Swisscom's new CEO sees future in the "cloud"
November 7, 2013 / 7:51 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Swisscom's new CEO sees future in the "cloud"

* Swisscom names Urs Schaeppi as chief exec

* Q3 net 450 mln Sfr vs 438 mln in poll

* Revenue rises 2.2 pct to 2.87 bln Sfr

* Says Fastweb not for sale

* Shares rise 1.9 pct, outperform Swiss market

By Caroline Copley

ZURICH, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Swisscom AG named Urs Schaeppi as chief executive on Thursday, resolving leadership uncertainty following the suicide of Carsten Schloter earlier this year.

Schaeppi, a former head of Swisscom’s Swiss business and its corporate arm, has been acting CEO since Schloter was found dead at home in July.

The 53-year-old Swiss citizen faces the task of adapting the company’s strategy to a raft of competitive threats, including free smartphone messaging service WhatsApp which is challenging the traditional model of telecoms groups.

Another test will be to exploit new technologies such as “cloud” computing - an umbrella term for services such as email and business software offered remotely via the Internet.

Majority government-owned Swisscom, the largest provider of IT infrastructure in Switzerland, has already said it plans to build a “Swiss cloud” as part of efforts to help cut costs and improve the flexibility of IT systems.

“I‘m personally convinced that the cloud is the future,” Schaeppi told reporters at a news conference. He also sees growth opportunities in home computing and “eHealth”, or services such as electronic archiving of patient data.

Shares in Swisscom, which have risen 17 percent so far this year, were trading up 1.9 percent at 471.3 francs by 0909 GMT, compared with a 0.2 percent rise in the Swiss blue-chip index .

Schaeppi also said Swisscom’s Italian broadband network operator Fastweb, which it acquired in 2007 under former CEO Schloter for 4.6 billion euros ($6.2 billion), was not for sale, rebutting speculation it could be a target for cash-rich Vodafone.

In the first nine months of the year, Fastweb added 207,000 customers, an increase of 12.1 percent year-on-year, thanks to bundled offerings combining TV and broadband internet in partnership with Sky Italia.

Swisscom’s net profit after minorities edged up 0.4 percent in the third quarter to 450 million Swiss francs ($493.9 million), ahead of the average forecast for 438 million in a Reuters poll.

Sales rose 2.3 percent to 2.87 billion, slightly ahead of estimates.

The group confirmed its previous guidance for revenues in excess of 11.4 billion francs in 2013 and EBITDA (earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation) to fall 3 percent to 4.25 billion.

It expects to pay a dividend of 22 francs per share for the 2013 financial year, unchanged from the previous year.

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