Orange CEO Richard to be replaced after fraud conviction

25 November 2021 | Saf Malik

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Orange has confirmed that its chairman and CEO Stephane Richard has left his position following his conviction in a fraud trial for misuse of public funds.

The company said that it had accepted Richard’s resignation and he will continue in his role until 31 January 2022 at the latest. The case concerned a €400 million payout to businessman Bernard Tapie in 2008.

Richard was acquitted at the end of the first trial in 2019 but was handed a one year suspended prison sentence by the Paris Court of Appeal. Richard has maintained his innocence and said he will be appealing the decision. 

In a statement, Orange said: “The Board of Directors wishes to underline Stéphane Richard's desire to ensure that the Group’s governance is preserved. 

“The Board thanks him for his commitment at the helm of Orange for the past 11 years, from restoring an appeased working environment after the social crisis to the transformation of Orange into a leading multi-service operator in Europe and Africa. 

“Stephane will have contributed significantly to the history of the Group in sometimes tumultuous times and always working in the best interests of the company.”

In September, Richard said he wanted a fourth term as CEO, but not as chairman of the company after the end of his current mandate which was scheduled to end in May 2022. 

He became CEO and chairman of the company in 2011 and is credited for investing in its networks in broadband fibre in France and Spain and expanding telco activities in Africa.

Under Richard’s leadership, the telco also announced plans to establish fibre and tower Co’s in Europe as part of its wider Engage 2025 strategy. 

Richard also serves as chairman of the GSMA, a role he had taken in January 2019. Although, the GSMA were unable to comment on the matter.