Liberty Global names new Swiss execs

Mike Fries Liberty Global.jpg

Liberty Global has named the CEO and deputy CEO who are to take the helm following its acquisition of Sunrise Communications, which closed last week.

Through its subsidiary UPC Schweiz GmbH, Liberty now holds more than 98% of the share capital of Sunrise and will initiate a “squeeze-out” according to the Swiss Financial Market Infrastructure Act, after which the company will then be de-listed.

André Krause has been named the CEO of the Combined Sunrise UPC Business. Reporting to CEO Mike Fries (pictured), Krause takes on the new role with immediate effect.

He was until now the CEO of Sunrise and served as the mobile operator’s CFO for eight years prior. He is described as having been “critical” in leading the transformation of Sunrise’s network, customer service, brand and company culture and “instrumental in the successful IPO and listing of the company on the Swiss exchange in 2015”.

Commenting on this appointment, Fries said: “André is an outstanding executive with a proven track record of growth, innovation and value creation at Sunrise. He is uniquely qualified to lead the integration of these two businesses and deliver on our long-term strategic growth plans in the market.

“He will also be a great addition to my senior leadership team where his mobile experience will be particularly valuable, and he can benefit from our success in other fixed-mobile markets.”

Severina Pascu will return to Switzerland to serve as deputy CEO and COO, also reporting to Krause. Pascu most recently held the positions of CFO and deputy CEO of Virgin Media in the UK and, prior to this, was CEO of UPC Switzerland from September 2018 to January 2020.

She has spent the last 10 years in leadership positions in Liberty Global’s Central and Eastern European operations and will now lead the combined consumer and business organisations, operations and digital functions.

Fries added: “I am also thrilled to have Severina back in Switzerland. She is a world class operator with deep experience in the Swiss market and clear understanding of what it takes to build a converged national champion. She and André are a ‘dream team’ that will provide leadership, continuity and strategic clarity to Sunrise UPC at this critical juncture.”

Baptiest Coopmans, who served as CEO of UPC Switzerland for the last 10 months, will return to a senior operating role at Liberty Global.

Fries said: “Baptiest did a fantastic job in his short tenure at UPC. In a difficult year, he accelerated commercial momentum, simplified the operating structure and energised the team.”

Fries continued: “This is an exciting time in Switzerland as we bring these two major brands together for the benefit of consumers, businesses and employees.

Announced in February 2019, Sunrise was originally to acquire Liberty’s UPC for approximately €5.5 billion, positioning Sunrise as the number two operator, behind Swisscom, in mobile, TV, fixed broadband and fixed voice.

Talks were terminated in December 2019, but the deal ended up back on the table in August this year with a reported deal value of US$7.4 billion. The transaction concluded on 12 November  and the two will continue to operate independently until the integration of the companies is completed in early 2021.