Risks and opportunities
This section provides important additional information and explains recent changes in the risks and opportunities as described in the combined management report of the 2020 Annual Report. Readers are also referred to the Disclaimer at the end of this report.
Economic risks, United States
Leading economic research institutes have raised their growth forecasts for the United States. The Covid-19 vaccination program in the United States is being rolled out quickly and a USD 1,900 billion relief package has now been passed, which could, however, also entail higher U.S. corporate income tax rates going forward, potentially increasing the tax burden for our Group company T‑Mobile US. In April 2021, the IMF forecast a 6.4 % expansion of the U.S. economy for the current year and considers a return to recession to be unlikely. Economic activity in the United States is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels as early as mid-2021. The current growth outlooks have prompted us to reduce the risk significance for the risk category “Economic risks, United States” to “low.”
New state interventions in the context of cybersecurity in Poland under debate. In January 2021, the Polish government published a draft for a cybersecurity act and new provisions for an amendment to the national telecommunications act. These changes would give new mobile network operators privileged access to resources to foster their establishment in the market. This could result in unfair competition and negatively affect the competitive standing of our mobile communications subsidiary in Poland.
Prospectus liability proceedings (third public offering, or DT3). This relates to initially around 2,600 ongoing lawsuits from some 16,000 alleged buyers of T-Shares sold on the basis of the prospectus published on May 26, 2000. The plaintiffs assert that individual figures given in this prospectus were inaccurate or incomplete. The amount in dispute currently totals approximately EUR 78 million plus interest. Some of the actions are also directed at KfW and/or the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the banks that handled the issuances. The Frankfurt/Main Regional Court had issued orders for reference to the Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court in accordance with the German Capital Investor Model Proceedings Act (Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz – KapMuG) and has temporarily suspended the initial proceedings. On May 16, 2012, the Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court had ruled that there were no material errors in Deutsche Telekom AG’s prospectus. In its decision on October 21, 2014, the Federal Court of Justice partly revoked this ruling, determined that there was a mistake in the prospectus, and referred the case back to the Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court. On November 30, 2016, the Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court ruled that the mistake in the prospectus identified by the Federal Court of Justice could result in liability on the part of Deutsche Telekom AG, although the details of that liability would have to be established in the initial proceedings. Following an appeal from both parties, in February 2021 the Federal Court of Justice once again referred the process back to the Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court. Deutsche Telekom has recognized appropriate provisions for risk in the statement of financial position.
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, which were paid in full in January 2015. In 2018, following an appeal by Slovak Telekom and Deutsche Telekom, the Court of the European Union partially overturned the European Commission’s ruling and reduced the fines by a total of EUR 13 million. A ruling of March 25, 2021 dismissed in full a further appeal with the European Court of Justice. Following the decision of the European Commission, competitors had 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.
Assessment of the aggregate risk position
At the time of preparing this report, neither our risk management system nor our management could identify any material risks to the continued existence of Deutsche Telekom AG or a significant Group company as a going concern.