Deutsche Telekom eyes direct control over T-Mobile in medium term

BERLIN, April 1 (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom expects to secure direct ownership control over T-Mobile , funded by significant capital return to shareholders by its U.S. business, CEO Tim Hoettges told shareholders on Thursday.

In prepared remarks to the annual shareholders meeting, Hoettges said he expected T-Mobile to return up to $60 billion to shareholders between 2023 and 2025.

With its share of proceeds, Deutsche Telekom would be able to raise its holding in T-Mobile to over 50% from 43% now, at a strike price below current market levels secured with options, he added.

“It’s harvest time,” said Hoettges.

He said that the task first will be to reduce group debts of around 120 billion euros ($141 billion) that increased as a result of T-Mobile’s takeover of smaller rival Sprint that closed a year ago.

Hoettges reiterated Deutsche Telekom’s goal of reducing its leverage ratio - debt as a multiple of core earnings - to a range of 2.25-2.75 times from 2.78 times over the medium term.` ($1 = 0.8522 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine)