Stephane Richard, stressful departure from Orange

This Thursday, May 19, 2022, Stephane Richard officially leaves Orange after more than a decade in charge of the French group. The general meeting, which is to approve the new direction, must be animated by several explosive files.

Today, the era of Stéphane Richard is officially ending at Orange. Having left the general leadership of the group, which Christel Heidemann took over on April 4, the strongman of the French cameraman for more than a decade has to leave his presidential suit in favor of Jacques Aschenbroich on the occasion of a general meeting. groups. But this departure is far from calm…

First of all, some shareholders, such as Amundi, did not appreciate that the Orange board of directors decided to offer exceptional compensation of 475,000 gross euros, that is, almost four months of Stéphane Richard’s annual salary (1.8 million euros in 2021). And it was not in vain that they claimed that this severance pay was not provided for in the contract of the head of the operator.

Moreover, Stéphane Richard, who was convicted in the Tapi case, could not perceive such a bonus in their eyes, but he was welcomed by the Orange staff, who generally appreciated the actions of Stéphane Richard during his 12 years as CEO. groups. The state, which nevertheless pushed him out after his conviction, was also for this award.

Stephane Richard refuses exclusive compensation of 475,000 euros

Faced with protests from institutional investors, the latter, who was one of the “poorest paid” CAC 40 bosses, decided to take the lead by waiving this exceptional severance package less than 48 hours before the general meeting. “to thank the board of directors for this intention”.

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Previously a candidate to succeed him, but only as president, Stéphane Richard finally gave in after being sentenced on November 24, 2021 to one year’s suspended sentence and a €50,000 fine for complicity in embezzlement of state property in the context of the Tapi case. After the verdict was announced, Orange’s board of directors accepted his resignation.

After more than a decade at the head of an operator, Stéphane Richard is preparing to leave a group that has never been successful in the stock market, with successes such as the quality of mobile services, good results achieved in Africa and the creation of Orange Cyberdefense, but also failures such as like a Djingo-connected speaker that went offline in 2021, and Orange Bank that is far from profitable. From now on, he will take up finance by joining the American investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners. The letter a. In this he must take care of mergers and acquisitions in telecommunications.

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Christel Heidemann Gets More Than Stefan Richard

By defusing the potentially explosive file, Stéphane Richard paved the way for the approval of the reward for Orange’s new CEO Christel Heidemann, which was opposed by the group’s employees. This was indeed included in the decision to compensate the outgoing boss.

If Kristel Heidemann’s fixed salary (900,000 euros) is 50,000 euros lower than her predecessor, her higher variable remuneration ceiling would allow her to earn more than Stefan Richard, with a total envelope of up to 2.25 million euros per year. What’s more, she’ll get a retirement cap that the former CEO didn’t use.

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Initially opposed to the compensation package, Orange employees who received only a 3% raise in the latest Mandatory Annual Negotiations (NAO) should finally come out in support of the decision. However, the latter will not fail to internally clench a few teeth.

Jacques Aschenbroch and the era of discord

The issue of compensation has been resolved, and there is one more burning issue for negotiations: the age of the next president of Orange. On June 3, when Jacques Aschenbroch celebrates his 68th candle day, he really faces the age limit of 70, set by the operator. It is therefore necessary to amend the group’s bylaws to open the door to the presidency for him and thus enable him to fulfill a four-year mandate. And this despite the fact that the intergenerational agreement, concluded at the end of December, provides for a system of early dismissal of employees who want to do this, from the age of 58.

Orange employees, who own 10% of the company’s voting rights (vs. 23% for the state, the group’s largest shareholder), have instead asked for a younger president who is likely to tie the orange executive to two terms. In addition, the accumulation of mandates by Jacques Aschenbroich is internally not encouraging. He will remain non-executive chairman of Valeo no later than December 31, 2022 and sits on the board of directors of BNP Paribas, a direct competitor to Orange Bank.

After a meeting organized with Christel Heidemann on Wednesday morning and a vote organized in the process, the employees should finally support this measure. Thus, barring the latest turn of events, Jacques Aschenbroich should be named the new president of Orange during the general meeting to form the head of the group along with Christel Heidemann.