(Corrects length of CEO term in second paragraph to four from
PARIS May 27 France's state-backed telecom
group Orange named Ramon Fernandez, a top civil
servant who now serves as the country's Treasury chief, as its
next chief financial officer effective in September.
The appointment is part of a reshuffle of the management
ranks of Europe's fourth-largest telecom group by sales by Chief
Executive Stephane Richard. His second four-year term at the
helm of Orange was expected to be approved at an annual
shareholder meeting on Tuesday.
Richard is trying to stabilise Orange's operating profit
despite cut-throat competition in its home market of France,
which along with regulatory changes, has taken a chunk out of
revenue. Mobile service prices in France decreased by 27 percent
last year after having fallen 11 percent in 2012, according to
data published on Tuesday by telecom regulator ARCEP.
Like other European telecom players, Orange - which also
operates in Britain, Spain, and Poland, and a dozen African
markets - is trying to develop new services in everything from
mobile payments to cloud computing in the aim of returning to
To that end, Richard also on Tuesday named a French banking
executive, Laurent Paillassot, as a deputy CEO to help Orange
develop its mobile banking services. Paillassot, 49, has worked
at French retail bank LCL, a unit of Credit Agricole,
since 2007 to develop its technology projects.
Fernandez will also hold the title of deputy CEO in addition
to serving as CFO. Current finance chief Gervais Pellissier will
go on to lead the group's European operations, including its
joint venture with Deutsche Telekom in Britain.
The appointment of Fernandez, a high-ranking civil servant
with no telecoms experience, shows the continued influence of
the state at Orange, which was formerly called France Telecom.
The French government owns 27 percent of the company, and
effectively names the CEO of Orange and nominates three of its
Orange shares are up nearly 35 percent this year, making it
the second-largest gainer in Europe's telecom index,
which is up 1.7 percent in the same period.
(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Mark John and David