ZURICH (Reuters) – Swisscom Chief Executive Carsten Schloter was found dead at his home in the Freiburg area on Tuesday morning in a suspected case of suicide, police said.
An investigation into the exact circumstances of his death is underway and out of consideration for the family no further details are being disclosed, Swisscom said in a statement.
“We can confirm that the first elements of the investigation make us think it was a suicide. It is impossible to say at this stage how long the investigation will take,” said Pierre-Andre Waeber, spokesman at the cantonal police in Freiburg.
Schloter, a 49-year-old German national, joined Swisscom in 2000 and became CEO of Switzerland’s largest phone company in 2006. Before joining Swisscom, the graduate in business administration and I.T., fluent in French and English, worked for Mercedes and debitel in France and Germany.
In one of his last interviews, Schloter described himself as a victim of modern communication, always on the go and said it was all too easy to get lost in the stream of information.
“I find it increasingly difficult to unwind,” Schloter, a father of three, told the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper in an interview in May.
Hansueli Loosli, chairman of Swisscom’s board said the company was “deeply saddened” by the news. Swisscom’s Swiss head Urs Schaeppi will take over management of the company temporarily.
Shares in the company were trading down 0.7 percent at 414.4 Swiss francs by 1247 GMT, compared to a flat blue-chip sector index.
Under Schloter’s leadership, Swisscom acquired Italian broadband network operator Fastweb in 2007 to counter lacklustre growth at home, where it faced price pressure and increasing competition.
Like other European telecoms groups, Swisscom, still majority owned by the state, has struggled with declining revenue and profit as customers shift from using from traditional text messages and voice calls to apps like Skype, What’s App and Viber that let users route calls and messages through data plans.
Last Friday, Switzerland’s competition body said it had opened a probe into the former monopoly after suggestions from a rival it abused its market position in broadband internet for business clients.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley, Silke Koltrowitz, Alice Baghdjian and Katharina Bart. Editing by Jane Merriman)