* Says it is company’s duty to improve return of T-Mobile US
* Says will consider partner who can help to improve return
* Says Deutsche Telekom under no pressure to sell (Adds additional comments from CEO, context of U.S. market)
COLOGNE, Germany, May 21 (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom will consider any partner that can improve profitability at its U.S. operations, its chief executive told the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
Chief Executive Tim Hoettges said on Thursday T-Mobile US , of which Deutsche Telekom owns 66 percent, was in much better shape than two years ago.
“But it is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US,” he added. “If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it.”
T-Mobile US, the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States, has turned around years of subscriber losses with cut-price deals, savvy marketing and well-publicized wireless plans in recent quarters.
The turn-around comes as the U.S. telecoms market consolidates, with mobile operators expanding their services into fixed-line connections, broadband and television.
On Wednesday, European telecoms group Altice agreed to buy U.S. regional cable company Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion. And last week Verizon agreed to buy AOL for $4.4 billion, while AT&T is still waiting for regulatory approval for its $48.5 billion purchase of DirectTV, the No. 1 U.S. satellite TV provide.
Deutsche Telekom last year tried to sell T-Mobile US to Sprint but the No. 3 U.S. carrier dropped its bid after regulatory resistance.
Hoettges told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that Deutsche Telekom was under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, something he has said before.
“Customer are literally flocking to us,” he said. T-Mobile added more than 8 million new customers in 2014, the strongest growth in the company’s history, he said. (Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter)