France Telecom names new chief

Heavily indebted telecoms operator France Telecom has appointed a new chief executive in a bid to turn around the company’s fortunes.

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By  Philip Fenton Published  October 3, 2002

France Telecom, the crisis-stricken telecoms operator, has named its new chief executive and chairman.

Thierry Breton, current head of Thomson Multimedia, is to take over from Michel Bon at the head of France’s biggest phone company.

Breton, a specialist in turning around the fortunes of struggling companies, was widely tipped to be awarded the post.

France Telecom, which is still 55% owned by the French government, owes 70 billion euros (US$68.7bn) and reported a half-year loss of more than 12bn euros ($11.8bn).

Francis Mer, finance minister, said Breton "has all the means to succeed, with our support as a shareholder".

Mer's ministry, in reference to the group's urgent need for fresh capital, said the state would "contribute to the strengthening of the company's capital."

France Telecom ran up huge debts in ill-fated foreign investments, such as its costly involvement with Germany’s MobilCom.

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