New France Telecom chief appointed

28th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 27 (AFP) - The French telecommunications operator France Telecom has named Didier Lombard to take over as chief executive from Thierry Breton, who is to be the new French finance minister, the group said Sunday.

PARIS, Feb 27 (AFP) - The French telecommunications operator France Telecom has named Didier Lombard to take over as chief executive from Thierry Breton, who is to be the new French finance minister, the group said Sunday.

Lombard, 63 and currently head of France Telecom's technology mission, is a close aide to Breton and a French union said the former's nomination signalled a continuation of the latter's policies.

The decision was made during a board meeting on Sunday, called after the announcement that Breton would take over at the finance ministry from Herve Gaymard, who resigned on Friday amid a scandal over his luxury housing arrangements.

Following his nomination, Lombard said he "wanted to pay a warm and friendly tribute, in the name of the board, to Thierry Breton".

He praised Breton's work since his appointment in October 2002, saying he "oversaw the financial recovery ... devised a clear vision that has set the group's strategy and development for a number of years."

Breton had taken over at France Telecom when the telecoms operator was saddled with nearly EUR 70 billion (USD 90 billion) in debt, said then to have been the biggest in the world.

The group aims to have reduced that to about EUR 35 billion at the end of this year.

Paying homage to Breton's efforts, Lombard said: "I am proud to have worked for the group alongside him."

Born in 1942, a graduate of France's prestigious Ecole Polytechnique, Lombard joined what was then the ministry of post and telecommunications in 1967.

He worked on several projects developing satellite and mobile communications systems.

Lombard also worked from 1988-1990 as scientific director for the ministry of research and technology, and as general director for industrial strategy at the finance ministry.

Commenting on his nomination, Verveine Angeli of the SUD PTT trade union said: "We can expect a continuity of Breton's policies."

France Telecom staff would be confronted with "additional privatisation to accompany financial restructuring following the elimination of 28,000 posts," she added.

Breton had drawn up a three-year recovery plan for the telecoms operator, and oversaw its privatisation - the state now holds just over 42 percent of the company's shares.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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