The CEO of Deutsche Telekom has resigned and been replaced with the current head of the company mobile arm, T-Mobile.

A short statement from the German telco giant said only that Kai-Uwe Ricke has resigned "in the interests of the company" and in agreement with the company's Board. The decision follows Ricke's failure to retain the former incumbent's customers for landline services, and the resulting poor share price.

Ricke was appointed CEO on 15 November 2002, to succeed Ron Sommer, who lost his job after plunging Europe's largest telecommunications service provider into debt. Sommer spent billions of euros acquiring 3G mobile phone licenses and expanding the company through international acquisitions, such as VoiceStream in the US.

Ricke successfully reduced the group's debt from more than €65 billion to less than €40 billion, but he was unable to stop declining revenue in its traditional landline business.

Meanwhile, 43-year-old Rene Obermann will take over the role from today. Obermann has been a member of the Deutsche Telekom's management board since November 2002 and CEO of T-Mobile since December 2002.

Chairman of the company's Supervisory Board, Dr. Klaus Zumwinkel, said: "Rene Obermann is a strong entrepreneural leader with over 20 years experience in an industry that is characterised by fast technological changes and constant new challenges in the market. His career has a strong international influence, particularly through the successful internationalisation of T-Mobile. Customer focus and service are of high priority to Obermann. At the same time he will continue managing costs effectively."

Ricke was thanked for his "dedicated work" as head of the company over the past four years.

Original reporting by IDG News Service