Rumour Mill: Orange to appoint France's Treasury chief as CFO

Orange could be lining up France's Treasury chief, Ramon Fernandez, as its next chief financial officer, reports say, as CEO Stéphane Richard looks for new blood to help him improve the company's competitive position during his second term in office.

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, Fernandez is in line to succeed current CFO Gervais Pellissier, who is understood to be seeking a new post within the group. The Orange board recently backed Richard as CEO for a further four years.

A spokesperson for Orange declined to comment on the reports.

Citing unidentified sources, the Journal said a new CFO could be announced in a matter of weeks. The French government is meanwhile reportedly seeking a successor to Fernandez to head up France's Treasury.

Richard will need a strong team behind him as he charts Orange's future course. The company continues to face strong competition on its domestic market, which has been in the grip of a price war since Iliad-owned Free Mobile launched low-cost mobile price plans in January 2012. Orange has responded to the Free challenge with its own low-cost services under the Sosh brand, and continues to promote its Orange Open plans that combine mobile and fixed services.

The company is now set to face a greater challenge from the future SFR, after Vivendi agreed to sell its French telecoms unit to cable operator Numericable and its parent company Altice.

Orange is also looking at ways to optimise its overseas operations, and has already sold off some of its smaller and more peripheral units such as Orange Austria and Orange Dominicana. It is also considering the future of its operations in Uganda and Kenya. In other markets such as Spain, the company is understood to be looking at expansion options, for example by buying a fixed-line operator such as Jazztel.

The company recently launched a new international B2B programme called Orange Alliance that the French operator said will help spread its services and products to markets where it does not have a foothold. This joins the Orange Horizons programme that was set up in January last year to seek out new business opportunities outside the company's footprint through consumer-based services.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article

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