Orange, France’s biggest telecoms operator, said it would find a successor to its chairman and CEO Stephane Richard by January 31 after a Paris appeal court convicted him of complicity of misuse of public funds.
Stephane Richard’s conviction is a big blow for the former high-ranking civil servant, who has always denied any wrongdoing. The court’s verdict, which handed him a one-year suspended prison sentence, is precipitating his departure from the group, which he has led for the past 11 years.
The board of directors accepted Stephane Richard’s resignation in a meeting that ended at around 1900 GMT.
Stephane Richard will remain in office on an interim basis while the company looks for a replacement, the company said. It was not clear whether the group intended to separate the roles of chairman and CEO.
The French state owns a combined 23 percent stake in the former monopoly and the government’s intention up to now has been to separate the roles of CEO and chairman.
Stephane Richard’s current term formally expires in May 2022. He had already said that he would not seek to stay on as CEO but that he was willing to remain as chairman.