Eurotunnel boss-to-be is French travel pioneer
PARIS, April 7 (AFP) - Jacques Maillot, who is to head the financially-troubled Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel if a shareholder's revolt succeeds Wednesday, cultivates an agitator image always ready with biting commentary.
The 64-year-old founder of the Nouvelles Frontieres travel group brought affordable trips to many through a persistant battle against the national carrier Air France.
In 1966, Maillot took a hard-won bachelor’s degree in law and launched charter flights to Morocco.
A year later he took over the small airline Corsair and started Nouvelles Frontieres (New Borders), which later became the second biggest travel group in France.
In 2001, Maillot turned the company over to others however, saying: “No one makes money” in the travel business.
“People still want to travel but they want lower and lower prices.”
Control of the group is now in the hands of the German giant Preussag.
A practicing Catholic, Maillot told the conservative daily Le Figaro in 2002: “I make important decisions in church.”
He worked for the Socialist party until Francois Mitterrand was elected French president in May 1981 and began a program of nationalisations.
Currently, Maillot holds stakes in a Christian weekly magazine and Karthala, a publishing house interested in Africa and the Middle East, and writes editorials for the weekly supplement Figaro Entreprises.
He is also on the board of the national railway SNCF and the insurance company Generali France Assurance.
If he becomes head of Eurotunnel, Maillot will chalk up a victory against rival Philippe Bourguignon, former head of Club Med from 1997 to 2002.
Bourguignon was named by the current Eurotunnel board as its next chairman, but rejected the post Wednesday as it appeared the shareholder revolt was gathering steam.
Maillot, on the other hand, has said: “I am a fighter. As soon as a battle is over, I find another.”
Subject: French news