Ron Sommer

CEO, Deutsche Telecom

Maybe it is his mathematical logic. Maybe its his $100 billion acquisition war chest: Deutsche Telekoms Ron Sommer is irresistible to the U.S. Internet market.

Sure, he has already bagged his first $45 billion cash-and-stock acquisition on this side of the Atlantic: mobile communications company VoiceStream Wireless, which will now receive $5 billion worth of DTs investment for growth and expansion. Onlookers believe that VoiceStream was just a warm-up for Sommer.

And with good reason. For years, international outreach for DT meant working through Global One, an alliance of DT, France Télécom and Sprint. Then WorldCom approached Sprint about a merger, opening up a Pandoras box that collapsed the alliance. Now, Global One is just France Télécom. So DT grew internationally by itself instead.

Sommers first order of business was to merge with Telecom Italia. Those talks failed with a thud, mainly because of DTs undiplomatic way of trying to form an alliance. Then there were more direct forays into the U.S. market.

The most attention was paid to DTs unsuccessful attempt to buy out Qwest Communications International and U S West in the midst of their merger. Sommer reportedly offered $100 billion for both. Since those talks collapsed, DT has been rumored to be sitting down with almost every large U.S. and international company with a well-defined data strategy: Frances Bouygues Telecom, BellSouth, British Cable & Wireless, Cable & Wireless, Sprint and Spains Telefonica.

Should Sommer pull any of these deals off, he would become one of the worlds most influential Germans, as well as an even bigger player in the international telecom arena, which is increasingly skewed toward offering data services.