France Telecom's incoming CEO, Stephane Richard will concentrate his efforts on rebuilding staff morale and expanding the company's European presence.
Richard has pledged to try to keep domestic staff levels unchanged this year, and site closures at a minimum, as a show of goodwill towards workers and unions angered by the company's handling of a suicide crisis, which saw 35 employees commit suicide over the past two years. Unions blamed a hostile work culture and a policy of frequent staff relocation for the deaths.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal
, Richard added
that he has been flying around France meeting many of the operator's 102,000 domestic staff.
News of Richard's appointment broke just days ago, after current chief Didier Lombard finally ceded to pressure
to step down as CEO, effective March 1. Lombard will retain his position as chairman.
Lombard was originally due to cede power to Richard in 2011, but the scandal forced him out early.
Richard says he plans to pursue fresh growth opportunities in Europe – mainly through JVs – and to continue investing in France Telecom's mobile and broadband networks.
He added that he was rethinking France Telecom's plan to offer a pay-TV service, but hadn't yet to abandon the strategy altogether.