SFR appoints Vodafone Europe’s CEO

French operator SFR has appointed Vodafone Europe’s head honcho Michel Combes as its CEO. Combes, currently CEO at Vodafone Europe and director of Vodafone Plc, will join SFR in August and brings with him experience and knowledge of the French telecoms market, having previously served as CEO of French media and telecoms conglomerate TDF and as CFO at France Telecom.

Emeka Obiodu, telecoms strategy analyst at Ovum, said Combes’ experience of running an international business unit at Vodafone will give SFR the broader perspective it has been missing.

“At SFR, each of these experiences will provide critical insights. Like its peers in France, SFR is facing immense pressures from the entry of Free into the market. As such, a solid understanding of the French market is necessary for the CEO,” said Obiodu.

“But Free, and the emergence of OTT players as threats, cannot just be dealt with as a local French problem. And so, having overseen Vodafone’s operations across Europe, Combes would be sufficiently exposed to the challenges facing the global telecoms industry with experiences of how different countries have coped. This is his key asset for SFR.”

Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of parent company Vivendi also voiced his view that Combes’ leadership experience and knowledge of the international telecom sector will prove to be instrumental in the operator’s success. Combes will also take a position on Vivendi’s management board.

“We have every confidence in its ability to mobilise teams of SFR and build with them a successful project,»” he said.

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