Lombard to step down as France Telecom CEO

On February 24, France Telecom’s board of directors will consider a proposal that could remove Didier Lombard as chief executive of the operator.

Lombard took the Orange brand to the heart of France Telecom’s operations with a re-badging strategy across the French incumbent’s service and international portfolio. But his leadership has recently been shaken by a spate of suicides among France Telecom employees, with the finger of blame pointed at the ‘atmosphere’ within the company caused by upheaval and a wide ranging restructuring process. The operator was privatised in 1998 but around two thirds of its workforce remain on civil service contracts. The company employs about 191,000 people, around half of which are outside of France.

If the proposal, which was suggested by Lombard himself, is accepted, Lombard will retain the role as chairman and will be focused on group’s strategic and technological orientations.

Stephane Richard, currently the chief executive officer delegate, will become CEO and will take management responsibility for the group’s operations.

In fact, the company’s misfortunes accelerated Richard’s ascension. It was only October when Louis-Pierre Wenes, then deputy CEO of French operations, asked Lombard to relieve him of his responsibilities, seeing Richard appointed deputy CEO in his place. Richard was already CEO designate however, so this latest move should be viewed as acceptable to management and investors.

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