Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete will replace Cesar Alierta, executive chairman and chief executive officer, who will be stepping down after almost 16 years running the company.
Cesar Alierta, 70, will remain on Telefonica’s board.
As the chief operating officer, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, 52, has been running the company’s day-to-day operations since 2012.
As the next CEO of Telefonica, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete aims to revive domestic business, reduce debt and reverse shrinking revenue from Brazil, its second-largest market, Bloomberg reported.
Telefonica is the biggest European telecoms investor in Latin America, where it is the largest or second-largest carrier in most markets.
About Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete
Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, who aspires to run a marathon with each of his three sons after doing one with his wife a few years ago, joined Telefonica in 1999 as finance manager in the international division.
It took him only seven months to rise to the top of the finance department, and the following year he oversaw the listing of Telefonica’s wireless division. He remained finance chief until he was asked to oversee the company’s Latin American operations in 2002.
Seen as down-to-earth, charming and shrewd, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete commuted from Sao Paulo to Madrid almost weekly to see his family during nearly 10 years in Latin America. He posts regularly about entrepreneurship and technology and rarely about his employer on Twitter.
Cesar Alierta, who will be retiring from the top position, oversaw more than $100 billion in acquisitions to build Telefonica into one of Europe’s largest phone companies, expanding into countries including Brazil, Germany and the U.K. and more than doubling its revenue.