Orange puts three on shortlist for future CEO – report

Orange Group is up against a tight deadline to find a replacement for its outgoing CEO and Chairman Stéphane Richard.

According to reports in the French press, it has boiled down its CEO shortlist to three candidates, of which two already work for Orange in some capacity.

Hanging around: Reports suggest Stephane Richard could remain at the helm of Orange beyond the end of January.
Hanging around: Reports suggest Stéphane Richard could remain at the helm of Orange beyond the end of January.

The names of the three candidates were first reported by Liberation. The paper said a dedicated selection committee composed of three board members has chosen Orange's chief financial officer Ramon Fernandez, Schneider Electric's head for Europe Christel Heydemann – who also sits on Orange's board – and Verizon's Chief Revenue Officer Frank Boulben.

Hanging on

Richard handed over his mandate as chairman and CEO in November 2021 after a ruling by the Paris Court of Appeal went against him in the long-running "affaire Tapie."

The court found Richard guilty of "complicity in the misuse of public funds" in the fraud case that dates back to 2008. Richard was accused of helping the late businessman Bernard Tapie cheat the French government out of around €403 million (US$455 million).

He was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and fined €50,000 ($56,242). Richard said in a statement that he rejected the decision and intends to appeal.

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He is due to remain in his role at Orange until January 31, 2022, by which point a new CEO and chairman should have been appointed. BFMTV reported that the board of directors will meet on January 24 to choose the name of the future CEO.

However, it has been suggested that Richard's tenure may be extended beyond January, primarily because Orange likely has to find two people to fill his dual role.

It is also being reported that not everyone is satisfied with the proposed candidates, including the French government. France still owns a controlling 23% stake in Orange and therefore has a big say in its governance.

BFMTV even suggested that Richard could remain in situ until May 2022, when his original mandate was due to expire anyway.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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