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37 Contingencies

As part of its ordinary business activities, Deutsche Telekom is involved in various proceedings both in and out of court with government agencies, competitors, and other parties, the outcome of which often cannot be reliably anticipated. As of the reporting date, the Group was exposed to contingent liabilities amounting to EUR 0.1 billion (December 31, 2020: EUR 0.1 billion) and to contingent assets amounting to EUR 0.0 billion (December 31, 2020: EUR 0.0 billion) that, on the basis of the information and estimates available, do not fulfill the requirements for recognition as liabilities or assets in the statement of financial position. Litigation provisions include the costs of legal counsel services and any probable losses. Deutsche Telekom does not believe that any additional costs arising from legal counsel services or the results of proceedings will have a material adverse effect on the results of operations and financial position of the Group. In addition to individual cases that do not have any significant impact on their own, the aforementioned total contingent liabilities include the following items, the sequence of which does not imply an evaluation of their probability of occurrence or potential damage. In the event that in extremely rare cases disclosures required by IAS 37 are not made, Deutsche Telekom comes to the conclusion that these disclosures could seriously undermine the outcome of the relevant proceedings.

Contingent liabilities

On the basis of the information and estimates available, the following issues do not fulfill the requirements for recognition as liabilities in the statement of financial position. As it is not possible to estimate the amount of the contingent liabilities or the group of contingent liabilities with sufficient reliability in each case due to the uncertainties described below, they have not been included in the aforementioned total contingent liabilities.

Claims relating to charges for the shared use of cable ducts. In 2012, Kabel Deutschland Vertrieb und Service GmbH (today Vodafone Deutschland GmbH (VKDG)) filed a claim against Telekom Deutschland GmbH to reduce the annual charge for the rights to use cable duct capacities. According to VKDG’s latest estimates, its claims amounted to around EUR 624 million for the period from 2009 to mid-2018, along with around EUR 9 million for the alleged benefit from additional interest, plus interest in each case, and the company is also demanding a considerable reduction of the charges for the following years. In similar proceedings, the then Unitymedia Hessen GmbH & Co. KG, Unitymedia NRW GmbH, and Kabel BW GmbH (today Vodafone Hessen et al.) filed claims against Telekom Deutschland GmbH in January 2013, demanding that it cease charging the plaintiffs more than a specific and precisely stated amount for the shared use of cable ducts, including in the future. The plaintiffs are demanding a refund, most recently calculated at approximately EUR 570 million plus interest for the years 2009 to 2017. The claims were recently rejected by the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court (VKDG) and by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (Vodafone Hessen et al.) and an appeal was not allowed in both cases. In response to the complaints of the plaintiffs against non-allowance of appeal, the Federal Court of Justice allowed the appeal by VKDG to the extent that it relates to claims dating from January 1, 2012; the appeal by Vodafone Hessen et al. was allowed to the extent that it relates to claims dating from January 1, 2016. The claims were rejected with legally binding effect for the time periods prior to this, which leads to a significant reduction in current calculations of claims. In a ruling on December 14, 2021, the Federal Court of Justice referred the proceedings concerning the remaining claims back to the responsible Higher Regional Courts for a new hearing and decision. At present the financial impact of both these proceedings cannot be assessed with sufficient certainty.

Sprint Merger class action. On June 4, 2021, a shareholder class action and derivative action was filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery against Deutsche Telekom AG, SoftBank, T‑Mobile US, and all of our officers and directors at that time, asserting breach of fiduciary duties relating to the repricing amendment to the Business Combination Agreement, as well as SoftBank’s subsequent monetization of its T‑Mobile US shares. On October 29, 2021, the complaint was amended. The amended complaint is directed at the same defendants and the same underlying transactions as in the original action; however, it includes additional submission on alleged facts. At present, the financial impact of these proceedings cannot be assessed with sufficient certainty.

Proceedings against T‑Mobile US as a consequence of the cyberattack on T‑Mobile US. In August 2021, T‑Mobile US confirmed that their systems had been subject to a criminal cyberattack that compromised data of millions of their customers, former customers, and prospective customers. With the assistance of outside cybersecurity experts, T‑Mobile US located and closed the unauthorized access to their systems and identified customers whose information was impacted and notified them, consistent with state and federal requirements. As a result of the cyberattack, numerous consumer class actions were filed against T‑Mobile US. The class actions brought in before the federal courts were consolidated to one action in December 2021. The plaintiffs are claiming damages in an as yet unspecified amount. Moreover, in November 2021 a derivative action was filed against the members of the Board of Directors of T‑Mobile US. T‑Mobile US is also named as a nominal defendant in this lawsuit. The plaintiff is making various unquantified claims in relation to the company’s cybersecurity practices. In addition, inquiries have been made by various government agencies, law enforcement and other state authorities. At present the financial impact of these proceedings cannot be assessed with sufficient certainty.

Patents and licenses. Like many other large telecommunications and internet providers, Deutsche Telekom is exposed to a growing number of intellectual property rights disputes. There is a risk that Deutsche Telekom may have to pay license fees and/or compensation; Deutsche Telekom is also exposed to a risk of cease-and-desist orders, for example relating to the sale of a product or the use of a technology.

Anti-trust and consumer protection proceedings. Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiaries are subject to proceedings under anti-trust law in various jurisdictions, which may also lead to civil follow-on claims. Taken individually, none of the proceedings have a material impact. Deutsche Telekom believes the respective allegations and claims for damages are unfounded. The outcome of the proceedings cannot be foreseen at this point in time.

Claims for damages against Slovak Telekom following a European Commission decision to impose fines. The European Commission decided on October 15, 2014 that Slovak Telekom had abused its market power on the Slovak broadband market and as a result imposed fines on Slovak Telekom and Deutsche Telekom AG, which were paid in full in January 2015. After the Court of the European Union partially overturned the European Commission’s decision in 2018 and reduced the fines by a total of EUR 13 million, the legal recourse following the ruling of the European Court of Justice on March 25, 2021 is exhausted. Following the decision of the European Commission, competitors filed damage actions against Slovak Telekom with the civil court in Bratislava. These claims seek compensation for alleged damages due to Slovak Telekom’s abuse of a dominant market position, as determined by the European Commission. At present, two claims totaling EUR 112 million plus interest are still pending. It is currently not possible to estimate the financial impact with sufficient certainty.

Claims for damages against Deutsche Telekom AG, including due to insolvency of Phones4U. Phones4U was an independent British mobile retailer and had declared insolvency in 2013. The insolvency administrator is pursuing claims before the High Court of Justice in London against the mobile providers active on the UK market at that time and their parent companies on the grounds of alleged collusion in violation of anti-trust law and breach of contract. Deutsche Telekom AG, which at that time held 50 % of the mobile company EE Limited, has rejected the claims as unsubstantiated, including at the Case Management Conference in October 2021, but will nevertheless have to take part in the court proceedings, which are expected to begin in May 2022. Phones4U has yet to state the amount of its claim for damages. It is currently not possible to estimate the financial impact with sufficient certainty.

Tax risks. In many countries, Deutsche Telekom is subject to the applicable tax regulations. Risks can arise from changes in local taxation laws or case law and different interpretations of existing provisions. As a result, they can affect Deutsche Telekom’s tax expense and benefits as well as tax receivables and liabilities.

Protection against internet crime.