Swisscom chief executive found dead in suspected suicide

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The boss of Switzerland's biggest telecoms group has been found dead at his apartment in what police suspect was a case of suicide.

An investigation into the exact circumstances of Carsten Schloter's death is under way and out of consideration for the family no further details are being disclosed, Swisscom said in a statement. A German national, Schloter joined Swisscom in 2000, having previously worked for Mercedes and Debitel in France and Germany. He had been chief executive of Swisscom since 2006.

"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, a police spokesman in Freiburg, where Schloter's body was discovered on Tuesday morning.

With a reputation as a popular but demanding boss, the 49-year-old was regarded as one of the most talented of his generation of telecoms executives, maintaining Swisscom's profitability despite declining revenues.

He broke with entrenched Swiss tradition by insisting his employees address each other on first name terms, and declined to keep a separate office, instead relying on modern communications to work from multiple locations.

Schloter had discussed personal difficulties in a series of recent interviews, including the breakup of his marriage and the impossibility of switching off from work in a world dominated by smartphones.

In an interview with the Schweiz on Sonntag newspaper in May he warned against today's increasingly 24-hour business culture.

He said: "The most dangerous thing that can happen is that you drop into a mode of permanent activity. When you permanently check your smartphone to see if there are any new emails. It leads to you not finding any rest whatsoever."

He said he was struggling to find the free time in which to switch off his phone: "I notice in myself how I find it harder and harder to find the time to take my life down a gear."

Last Friday, Switzerland's competition body opened a probe into Swisscom, the former national monopoly in which the government still holds a majority stake, after rivals accused it of abusing its market position for business clients.

The company, which sold mobile, television, broadband and telephone services, has in common with other telecoms groups suffered from declining revenues in recent years as mobile customers switch their activity from traditional phone calls and texts to newer social media, and internet-based alternatives like WhatsApp and Viber gradually replace the services provided by mobile networks.

The group's deputy chief executive, Urs Schäppi, head of Swisscom Switzerland, will take over management of the company on an interim basis.

"The board of directors, group executive board and the entire workforce are deeply saddened and pass on their condolences to the family and relatives," said the Swisscom chairman, Hansueli Loosli, in a statement.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Juliette Garside, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 23rd July 2013 17.55 Europe/London

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