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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-02

Stephane Richard (pictured), France Telecom’s number two, will replace CEO Didier Lombard on March 1. Lombard has been under mounting pressure for mishandling a rash of suicides that plagued the French giant last year.

AFP - France Telecom chief executive Didier Lombard will hand over the reins of the former state monopoly to his deputy, Stephane Richard, on March 1, the company announced on Monday.

Lombard will keep his position as chairman of the board until early 2011 but will stand down as CEO one year earlier than scheduled, France Telecom said in a statement.

"Didier Lombard, France Telecom chief executive, has decided to propose to the company's board meeting on February 24 to separate the jobs of chairman and chief executive from March 1, 2010," the statement said.

"Stephane Richard, current deputy chief executive, will become chief executive in charge of the group's operations," it said.

Lombard had come under criticism for his handling of a crisis that hit staff morale and led to a rash of suicides last year.

Richard, formerly a top aide to Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, was named deputy chief executive in October after joining France Telecom as chief of international operations last year.

Europe's biggest Internet provider and its third mobile operator, trading internationally as Orange, France Telecom has undergone major restructuring to confront growing competition.

Although the suicide rate at France Telecom is lower than the French average, many of the employees have left notes blaming management decisions or stress at work.

France Telecom's deputy chief executive Louis-Pierre Wenes, architect of the modernisation drive, was replaced by Richard last year.


Date created : 2010-02-01


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