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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 18:17 GMT
Mobilcom tycoon goes bust
Gerhard Schmid
Mr Schmid cultivated a colourful image
Gerhard Schmid, the founder and former boss of troubled German telephone firm Mobilcom, has declared himself bankrupt, blaming the recent collapse in the company's shares.

Mr Schmid owns just under 40% of Mobilcom, whose shares have lost almost all their value in the past year as a result of insolvency fears.

Mr Schmid was ousted last year by Mobilcom's major shareholder, France Telecom, after a particularly bitter row about the firm's strategy.

The company insisted that Mr Schmid's bankruptcy "had no effect on Mobilcom's activities or contracts."

Rescue hopes

Mobilcom is in the throes of working out a rescue plan, which could involve France Telecom assuming almost all its debts, combined with possible aid from the German Government.

Mr Schmid set up Mobilcom in 1991, and became one of Europe's leading hi-tech tycoons when the firm's shares soared seven-fold on their flotation in 1997.

The colourful Mr Schmid lost the confidence of the markets in 2000, after Mobilcom's shares touched a high of 112 euros.

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