Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Hoettges (pictured) challenged its T-Mobile US business to become the country’s market leader after the expected completion of the unit’s big money merger with Sprint.

On the operator’s Q4 2019 results call, a bullish Hoettges said post-merger T-Mobile US would be in “pole position” to lead the market, stating it would be on an “equal footing” with Verizon and AT&T in terms of customer numbers with a superior spectrum portfolio.

He added the operation also had potential to up its play in the business segment, focusing on SMEs, and close the gap in market value with its two principal rivals.

The executive’s comments come a week after a US court threw out a legal bid to block its Sprint deal, though it still needs to clear two further legal hurdles and due diligence processes, both internal and from Sprint parent SoftBank.

Hoettges cited 1 April as its potential completion date, but refused to comment on media speculation Deutsche Telekom planned to change the terms of the agreement before closing.

He did, however, state it did not intend to further delay proceedings while noting the deadline for the initial deal had already expired and so “neither partner is obliged to reach the agreement”.

Although the call was dominated by talk of US ambition, Hoettges hailed the company’s performance across its markets and business segments.

In its home market of Germany, he noted it was on track to meet 5G coverage targets and praised deals made with rival operators to cut the cost of improving coverage in rural areas.

Across its European operations, the company reported increased uptake of fixed-mobile converged products and improvements in numbers of mobile customers on contracts.

DT booked increased revenue and profit across its operations for Q4 2019. Net profit was €654 million, up from a loss of €431 million in Q4 2018. Its figure from 2018 was negatively impacted by US tax charges.

Revenue increased 5.4 per cent to €21.3 billion.