French telecoms giant Orange names its first woman CEO

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French telecoms giant Orange names its first woman CEO

Christel Heydemann, head of Schneider Electric France, attended the third annual tech conference Inno Generation, organized by French investment bank Bpifrance at AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France on October 12, 2017. PARIS, Jan 28 Reuters -- Orange ORAN.PA France's biggest telecoms operator, Christel Heydemann, named its new chief executive, making her the first woman to lead the former monopoly amid a revamp of its governance.

A 47-year-old Heydemann, a former graduate of France's top engineering school Polytechnique, will replace Stephane Richard at the helm of the state-controlled group after a court convicted him of complicity of misuse of public funds.

Richard, who has led Orange for the past 12 years, denies any wrongdoing. Heydemann, who comes from French electric equipment company Schneider Electric SCHN.PA becomes the third woman appointed to lead a company listed on the French CAC 40 index after Engie's Catherine MacGregor and Estelle Brachlianoff, who is slated to take over the reins of utility company Veolia VIE.PA on July 1.

As a member of the board for nearly five years, I have a solid understanding of the technological challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us. Heydemann made a statement, and I know that these are significant.

Richard was originally slated to leave the telecoms group on Monday, but Orange's board voted to keep him as chairman until the company's shareholder meeting on May 19 at the latest. He will continue to run operations until April 4.

Richard is to be replaced as the non-executive chairman of the group, as the group is also splitting the roles of CEO and chairman of the board.

Christel Heydemann, the future CEO of Orange, is very happy to welcome. Richard tweeted on Friday, a woman with professional and human qualities that will allow her to meet the group's challenges with the help of our main wealth.

The Orange shares were trading up 0.5% at 1019 GMT.