BRUSSELS Nov 15 Belgacom chief
executive Didier Bellens will be dismissed on Friday by the
government, the telecom group's majority shareholder, four
Belgian newspapers reported on Friday.
The Belgian government, which has a 53.5 percent stake in
Belgacom, has been growing increasingly impatient with Bellens,
who has made headlines this year in the local media with his
criticism of Belgian federal and regional authorities.
He is reported to have told a recent Brussels business club
meeting that, in receiving an annual dividend from Belgacom,
Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was like a child coming for his
present from Santa Claus.
A spokesman for Jean-Pascal Labille, the federal minister in
charge of public companies, said that the government had not
taken a decision, with a meeting planned later on Friday to
discuss the matter.
Belgacom was not immediately available for comment.
Previously at Belgian holding group GBL and media
group RTL, Bellens became CEO of Belgacom in March
2003. His mandate would have run until 2015 after being extended
for a six-year term in 2009.
Both Chief Finance Officer Ray Stewart and the head of the
group's consumer unit Dominique Leroy have been touted as
possible candidates to succeed Bellens, business daily De Tijd
Investors in the company view Bellens as having done a
reasonable job during a turbulent time for European telecoms
operators, many of which have paid top dollar for mobile
licences at a time when regulators have moved to cap prices in
"We believe Mr Bellens has done a fine job at Belgacom,
balancing investments with a consistent (dividend) payout
policy," KBC analyst Thomas Deschepper wrote in a note to
clients on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop
and Patrick Graham)