France Telecom to reshuffle the management deck

After Stefane Richard, France Telecom's heir to the CEO throne, led a chorus asking CEO Didier Lombard to step down, the telco might instead decouple the CEO and Chairman posts.

This move, if granted board approval, would then elevate Stephane Richard to CEO and current CEO Didier Lombard to chairman. When Richard joined France Telecom last June after working in the French finance ministry, the plan was that he would take the CEO reins when Lombard retires next June.

What's accelerated the timeline for the management change has been a series of employee suicides. If the board approves the proposed moves, Richard would then be overseeing France Telecom's daily operations. In October, Richard replaced former deputy CEO Louis-Pierre Wenes who decided to resign after the 24th France Telecom employee committed suicide.  

Timing of this proposed change comes as France Telecom not only gets ready to put out its 2009 annual financial results on February 25, but also the launch of a major fiber-based broadband project.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

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