Telefónica appoints new CEO as Alierta steps down

Telefónica became the latest major operator in recent days to announce a change in its leadership after the Spain-based company said José María Álvarez-Pallete would succeed current CEO César Alierta.

In an announcement this week, Telefónica said the board of directors would review Álvarez-Pallete's appointment as executive chairman on Apr. 8. The future CEO, who joined the group in 1999 as CFO of Telefónica Internacional, already holds the position of COO and has been widely regarded as Alierta's likely successor.

Alierta, who is now 70, has been running Spain's largest telecoms operator for 16 years and will remain on the company's board of directors. As noted by Bloomberg, he oversaw more than $100 billion (€88 billion) in acquisitions, expanding into countries including Brazil, Germany and the UK and more than doubling the group's revenue.

The current CEO has also ruled over the transformation of the group's Spanish operations under the Movistar brand. Faced with an alarming decline in customer numbers following a deep and lasting recession in Spain, Movistar placed a focus on multi-service bundles that combined fixed internet and TV services with mobile plans under new packages called Fusion.

That started a trend in the market that persists to this day, with Vodafone Spain and Orange Spain now also offering multi-service plans and boosting their fixed assets through acquisitions.

Also during Alierta's tenure, Telefónica threw its hat firmly into the digital arena and was among the first operators to launch its own over-the-top applications such as Tu Me and Tu Go.

Meanwhile Telefónica is not the only major European operator to be currently facing a change in leadership: Telecom Italia is also expected to announce a new CEO very soon following the resignation of Marco Patuano last week. Reports have suggested that an announcement by the Italian operator could be made before the end of March.

For more:
- see this Telefónica release
- see this Bloomberg article

Related articles:
UPDATED: Telecom Italia CEO Marco Patuano resigns
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Telefónica misses Q4 EBITDA estimates due to 'unexpected' one-off costs
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