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Combes sprints over to the US following Altice failure

Michel Combes

Former Altice CEO Michel Combes wasted little time in moving on from his sacking by securing the CFO gig at US operator Sprint.

Combes full job title is actually President and CFO, but he will still report into Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, so the first position seems somewhat redundant. This also feels like a backward step for Comes in terms of job role, having previously been CEO at French telecoms conglomerate Altice and before that CEO of Alcatel Lucent.

The Sprint release insists Combes is an ‘accomplished telecom and cable industry executive’. It’s certainly hard to argue with a CV that also includes stints at Orange and Vodafone, but the extent of his accomplishments remains up for debate. Having overseen a halving of Altice’s share price in the space of just a week last November, Combes was thrown to the wolves, but Claure clearly thinks that was Altice’s mistake.

“Michel is an extremely capable and accomplished global telecom and cable industry leader and I know bringing him on board will help to accelerate our progress as Sprint begins the next chapter of our transformation,” said Claure. “He is a visionary executive with a proven track record of successfully transforming leading telecom and media companies and will help us to execute our strategic plan and strengthen our team.”

Combes follows the current trend of failed European telecoms execs grabbing a gig at a US operator to make ends meet. Sacked Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, of course, ended up at Verizon. It seems that once you get to the top table in the telecoms world, losing your job is not much of a problem because there will always be other C-suite opportunities magically cropping up.

“I have known Marcelo for many years and am delighted to join the Sprint team and build upon the great progress achieved to date,” said Combes. “This is an exciting challenge and unique opportunity to help lead a distinguished company through an historic turnaround and its most exciting period yet.”

Sprint’s shares fell 5% when the appointment was announced late last week.


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