Heydemann is replacing the outgoing Richard following the latter’s conviction of misuse of public funds
Late last year, Orange CEO Stephane Richard was convicted of misuse of public funds following a legal dispute dating all the way back to 2008, when he served as the chief of staff to then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
Though Richard maintains his innocence, he nonetheless immediately offered his resignation to Orange’s Board of Directors, which the Board accepted.
Richard was scheduled to step down from the role of CEO by the end of January, but with less than a month until this deadline, who his successor would be was still unclear. Early in the month, three candidates were reportedly in the running for the job: Ramon Fernandez, Orange’s current chief financial officer; Christel Heydemann, an Orange board member and Schneider Electric’s European head; and Frank Boulben; Verizon’s chief revenue officer.
At the time of these reports, however, it was feared that the French government, who hold a 23% stake in Orange, were unconvinced by these candidates and would potentially extend the hiring process into February.
Now, it seems that such measures have not been necessary, with Orange today announcing that it is Heydemann who will take the reins of the international telecoms group.
Heydemann has served on Orange’s Board of Directors for over five years and is currently executive vice president of Schneider Electric’s European operations. Beyond on work for Schneider Electric, she also has over a decade’s experience working at Alcatel in various roles, having played a critical role in Alcatel’s merger with Lucent in 2006.
“Christel’s involvement as a Board member and her long experience at Alcatel and then Schneider Electric means she has an excellent understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the digital future and the critical role this will play in the decades ahead. I am certain that her vision, her pragmatism and her ability to bring out the best in every situation will be of enormous value to Orange,” said outgoing CEO Richard.
Heydemann will take over the role from April 4, with Richard being asked to remain in the role until this time to ensure a smooth transition.
Richard will also continue in the role of non-executive Chairman until a new Chairman is in post and at the latest until Orange’s Annual General Meeting on May 19.
“As a member of the Board for nearly five years, I have gained a solid understanding of the technological challenges and opportunities that lie before us. I know that these are significant, but it is equally a huge honour to be able to contribute to the development of one of the leading players in our industry and Orange will have my total commitment as we set about this task,” said Heydemann. “I also know I can count, as my predecessor has been able to, on the dedication of all the company’s teams to see Orange through to success.”
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