Orange CEO Resigns After Court Conviction

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Stephane Richard steps down from his CEO and chairman positions of French mobile giant Orange, after his conviction by a Paris court

Orange boss Stephane Richard has resigned after being found guilty by the Paris Court of Appeal of aiding and abetting in the misuse of public funds.

Orange’s board of directors announced the resignation after the court verdict, and thanked him for his commitment during his 11 years in charge.

Stéphane Richard, aged 60, will leave his post by the end of January, and his departure confirmation came after he placed “my mandate within the hands of Orange’s board of directors.

Fraud payout

Richard was convicted of complicity in connection with a fraudulent 403 million euros state payout to a controversial tycoon Bernard Tapie back in 2008.

Richard was given a one-year suspended sentence.

“Following the verdict reached by the Paris Appeal Court, the Orange group’s Board of Directors met today and took note of Stéphane Richard’s decision to hand over his mandate as Chairman and CEO,” said Orange’s board of directors.

The French government has a minority stake in Orange, and France’s finance minister has urged that top executives of government-backed companies should have their positions removed if convicted of a crime.

“The Board has accepted his resignation,” said the board.

“This will take effect once the new governance structure has been appointed and at the latest by 31 January 2022. Stéphane Richard will continue in his role until this date.”

Significant contribution

“The Board of Directors wishes to underline Stéphane Richard’s desire to ensure that the Group’s governance is preserved,” it added. “The Board thanks him for his commitment at the helm of Orange for the past 11 years, from restoring an appeased working environment after the social crisis to the transformation of Orange into a leading multi-service operator in Europe and Africa.”

The board said that Richard had contributed significantly to the history of the Group in sometimes tumultuous times and always working in the best interests of the company.

The Board of Directors said it would continue the recruitment process initiated a few months ago in order to appoint and implement the new governance.

Richard had been appointed as CEO in 2011 and made his name by expanding Orange’s telecom operations in in Africa, as well as investing in fibre networks across France and Spain.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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