SFR CEO steps down

28 March 2012 |

The CEO of French operator SFR is stepping down in the wake of a domestic price war, which has seen the company’s share-price fall by 14%.

Frank Esser will be replaced by Vivendi CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy, who has a significant interest in SFR’s success. Lévy led Vivendi’s purchase of, former partner, Vodafone’s 44% stake in SFR for €7.95 billion last year.

SFR, which is France’s second largest operator, has suffered following the entrance of Iliad’s Free Mobile in January. With its aggressive pricing strategy and attractive bundle offerings, Free has attracted customers from its competitors and forced them into a price war.

Free operates through a roaming agreement with France Telecom-Orange, worth an estimated €1 billion over the next six years. Lévy heavily criticised the agreement, following a slashing of dividend and warning of falling profits by Vivendi, earlier this month. He claimed that it had allowed Free to offer initial prices which would have been impossible otherwise.

In his role at SFR, Lévy will be focussed on cutting costs, and competing with France Telecom, Free and Bouygues Telecom. He will also be tasked with convincing SFR customers to stay put after it was revealed that SFR lost approximately 200,000 customers in the two months after Free’s launch.