EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.13.19

Understanding Thierry Breton: In the Beginning…

Posted in Europe, Finance at 4:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

  • You are here ☞ Part 1: In the Beginning…
  • Part 2: “Mister Cash” Arrives at France Télécom
  • Part 3: Toxic Management Goes on Trial in France
  • Part 4: Moral Responsibility for “a Capitalism That Kills”?
  • Part 5: Chirac’s Entrepreneurial “Joker”
  • Part 6: The “Cost-Killer” Tries to Tame the National Debt
  • Part 7: “Rhodiagate” and the Vivendi Universal Affair
  • Part 8: Insider-Trading Scandal at EADS
  • Part 9: Noël Forgeard and His “Golden Parachute”
  • Part 10: What Thierry Did Next…
  • Part 11: Atos Healthcare – “The Ugly Face of Business”
  • Part 12: Thierry and the $100 Billion Man
  • Part 13: Socialising With the Elite
  • Part 14: More Influential Friends in High Places

Further parts pending review and research


Bretton's profile

Summary: Career roundup of Thierry Breton, possibly the next EU Commissioner

IN the course of a high-profile career which has spanned the worlds of business and politics since the 1990s, Thierry Breton has grown accustomed to rubbing shoulders with the great and good of the French elite.

But it wasn’t always plain sailing for the curly-haired computer whiz-kid who was born in Paris in 1955.

“He’s more of a second-rank “non-commissioned officer”, a hands-on “man of action” and ruthless “cost-killer” who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and who gets called in by the generals to act as a hatchet-man when there’s a job to be done.”Unlike his political patrons from UMP circles, Jacques Chirac, Dominique de Villepin and, more recently, Emmanuel Macron, Breton is not a graduate of the illustrious Ecole Nationale d’Administration and so he does not belong to the uppermost echelons of the French administrative and political elite.

He’s more of a second-rank “non-commissioned officer”, a hands-on “man of action” and ruthless “cost-killer” who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and who gets called in by the generals to act as a hatchet-man when there’s a job to be done.

Bretton in white coat
A hands-on “man of action” and ruthless “costkiller” who gets called in to act as a hatchet-man when there’s a job to be done.

To appreciate Breton’s career, it is helpful to bear in mind that France’s economic and political leadership are closely intertwined under an economic policy called “dirigisme”, in which technocratic elites from government, finance and industry, all products of the grandes écoles, move with ease between the public and private sectors and confer closely amongst each other to “optimise economic conditions” – mostly for their own benefit as you might have guessed.

“Breton’s career got off to an inauspicious start when he failed his entrance exams to the grandes écoles, France’s elite institutions of higher education.”Breton is probably best understood as a state-sponsored entrepreneurial poster-boy whose renommé has been carefully built up and inflated to mythical proportions by the political establishment.

This iconic figure is wheeled out at regular intervals as part of a public spectacle designed to maintain the carefully cultivated façade of a meritocratic land of “Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité” which masks the ugly truth of the rule by stealth of a patrician plutocratic elite.

Bretton, LEF
The Land of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity where some animals are more equal than others.

Breton’s career got off to an inauspicious start when he failed his entrance exams to the grandes écoles, France’s elite institutions of higher education.

Bretton when young
Young Thierry failed to make the grade for the elite grandes écoles.

Instead he had to make do with attending the far less prestigious École Supérieure d’Électricité for engineering in Paris from where he went on to teach mathematics and information technology at the Lycée Francais, a French high school in New York City, from 1979 to 1981.

“Instead he had to make do with attending the far less prestigious École Supérieure d’Électricité for engineering in Paris from where he went on to teach mathematics and information technology at the Lycée Francais, a French high school in New York City, from 1979 to 1981.”His first foray into the business world came in 1981, when he became chairman and CEO of Forma Systèmes, a systems-analysis and software-engineering concern, where he remained until 1986.

He then took a position as a consultant to the French Ministry of Education and Research and from 1986 to 1990 he occupied himself designing the Futuroscope open-air science and technology theme park in Poitiers under the patronage of the prominent Gaullist politician René Monory.

In 1990 Breton became the CEO of CGI Group, a service-development company. He stayed at CGI until 1993, when he got his first big break as the French government hired him to become deputy director of the Bull Group, the troubled French computer manufacturer.

Breton’s restructuring brought the company back from the brink of bankruptcy and it allowed the young executive to claim his first successful corporate recovery.

“After taking over at Thomson, he closed low-performing factories in Germany and the U.S., moving production to Latin America and Eastern Europe, and he slashed U.S. management ranks by 20 percent.”In 1997 Breton was named chairman and CEO of France’s Thomson Multimedia, a government-owned consumer-electronics company that sold televisions and VCRs under the Thomson, Kenwood, and RCA names and which was tottering on the verge of collapse.

A year before his appointment, Thomson had been in such a shambles that France’s prime minister had failed in his efforts to unload the company on the South Korean Daewoo for a single franc.

Breton was an aggressive CEO and he quickly gained a name as a ruthless “cost-killer” who was not afraid to face down objections to his plans.

After taking over at Thomson, he closed low-performing factories in Germany and the U.S., moving production to Latin America and Eastern Europe, and he slashed U.S. management ranks by 20 percent.

He used share offerings to generate case and also diversified the company’s businesses, bringing Thomson into interactive television, electronic publishing, and the Internet, as well as the higher-margin business of digital film-editing services.

“Some industry analysts believed that Breton received too much credit for the Thomson turnaround, saying the company’s recovery had more to do with agreements made before Breton came on board.”By 1999 Thomson was turning a $230 million profit on sales of $6.5 billion. By the time Breton left in 2002, revenues had increased by more than 80 percent and Thomson was outperforming Sony, Matsushita, and Philips, its major consumer-electronics competitors.

Some industry analysts believed that Breton received too much credit for the Thomson turnaround, saying the company’s recovery had more to do with agreements made before Breton came on board.

For instance, when Thomson bought RCA from General Electric in 1988, the French company agreed to let General Electric keep RCA’s patents for 10 years as part of the purchase agreement. Thomson started to reap significant revenues from these patents from 1999 onwards. By 2001, patents and licensing earnings were generating € 398.8 million for the company.

Breton dismissed his critics by insisting that the Thomson’s recovery was due to his reorganisation plans and that it had been under way well before the RCA patent revenues started coming in.

Others criticized Breton for the problems the computer-maker Bull Group ran into during the early 2000s, suggesting that the troubles stemmed from Breton’s earlier tenure at the helm of that company.

But whatever the truth may be, Breton had succeeded in cementing his reputation in the public eye as France’s “turnaround king”.

DENMARK-FRANCE POLITICS DIPLOMACY ROYALS
By 2002 Breton’s reputation as France’s “turnaround king” was firmly established.

And so it came as no surprise when the French government decided to call on his services once again in 2002, this time to rescue the ailing France Télécom. We will take a look at this important milestone in his career in part 2.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Microsoft is Going to Get Tired of Whining About “GAFA” and Accept That It's Just as Bad If Not a Lot Worse at Privacy

    Microsoft is being treated by the US government as if it's not abusing anything, let alone people's privacy; if anything, this demonstrates the degree to which Microsoft infiltrated or 'vendor-captured' regulatory branches



  2. Links 6/7/2020: LibreOffice 7.0 RC1, MX-19.2 KDE Beta 1, Linux 5.8 RC4

    Links for the day



  3. ZDNet's 'Linux' Section: Linux is Full of Problems and It Loves/Embraces Software Patents

    Software patents promotion and GNU/Linux FUD; your daily dosage of 'news' from the tabloid known as ZDNet...



  4. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 05, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, July 05, 2020



  5. Links 5/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Mate Beta and GNOME Gingerblue

    Links for the day



  6. Technological Progress? Only If We Assume The Wrong Things...

    When we're told that we're all dumb we're being given increasingly dumb technology (and they tell us dumber is better)



  7. Linux Foundation Still Owned and Controlled Largely -- and More Over Time -- by Surveillance Companies (Openwashing Services for Bad Practices and Bad Actors)

    The Linux Foundation‘s growing role in spying or the focus on data-mining operations is an eternal reminder or warning that the Foundation follows power and money, not freedom or ethics (it began as a salary-paying venture, crowdfunding among large corporations which conduct mass surveillance)



  8. Sharing is Caring, as Those Who Share Usually Care

    Going back to our human roots, people who cooperate and collaborate are vastly more likely to survive and thrive; Free software is almost guaranteed to become the norm when/once everyone demands it (proprietary software is too divisive, supremacist and even racist)



  9. Systems Can Crash and People Can Die by Changing Language (Even in Parameter and Function Space) to Appease Activists

    It seems clear that Intel takes the lead in trying to change Linux not in technical means but purely social means; even when (and where) that can compromise the robustness of the kernel (Intel is nowadays known for profoundly defective chips with back doors)



  10. António Campinos Should Speak to Peasants, Not Litigation Lawyers

    Mr. Campinos does not work for campinos but against campinos; he represents the people who sue or threaten them using ludicrous patents that should never have been granted (e.g. in Ethiopia)



  11. Christine Lambrecht (German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection) Ignores the Fact That Even Patent Experts Reject the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The debacle single-handedly caused by and attributable to Christine Lambrecht, who is eager to appease litigation lawyers, is made yet worse by the fact that people in this domain/profession reject what she's trying to ram down people's throats



  12. [Humour] The Linux Foundation is Not Even Using Linux

    The Linux Foundation does not support Linux except in name; it is important to remember that



  13. Microsoft Loves Power

    An explanation of why Microsoft says it loves this and that; Microsoft lacks the capacity to love or to express empathy as it's always about self gratification or coercion, nothing else



  14. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 04, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 04, 2020



  15. Indoors Society, Shut the Windows

    Times are changing in all sorts of ways; it seems like GNU/Linux and other Free/libre operating systems may emerge as winners when the 'dust settles'



  16. Allegation That Microsoft Adopted the Mentality of Suicide Bombers Against Linux, Leaks Reveal

    Looking at leaked E-mails from around the time Microsoft used Cyanogen as a 'proxy', we're finding some stunning admissions or speculation about the real motivations



  17. [Humour] A Union in Whose Interests?

    The union-busting 'yellow union' (the one that helped Benoît Battistelli marginalise SUEPO) is unable to represent staff any longer



  18. FFPE EPO Has Rendered Itself Obsolete by Liaising With Benoît Battistelli

    FFPE EPO has been left out of staff representation, demonstrating that liaising with the oppressor is a self-deprecating move which must be avoided (the only remaining potent union is SUEPO)



  19. Links 4/7/2020: LibreOffice 7.0 'Personal Edition', Atari VCS Coming Soon

    Links for the day



  20. [Humour/Meme] The 'New' Edge (Chrome Copycat) is Already Dead, So Microsoft is Trying to Just Kill the Competition

    Edge market share is so minuscule that it doesn’t even make it into this chart (it’s in “other”); no wonder Microsoft now bullies Windows users into using it, for users reject it even after months of endless advertising/AstroTurfing and aggressive exploitation/appropriation



  21. Fourth of July in the United Kingdom and the United States

    In these bizarre times Independence Day is still being celebrated, even as so many people are out of work, running out of hope and being fed xenophobia in social control media with a racist 'celebrity' president (the "user in chief")



  22. [Humour] Bigger is Always Better When You're a Deluded Maximalist

    The EPO totally lost sight of its mission; it's just speeding everything up, very carelessly, not minding quality and accuracy/certainty/legal validity



  23. 'Managing Intellectual Property' Managing to Become Uncritical Parrot of EPO Management

    Managing to amplify the EPO's lies isn't hard; one just needs to copy, paste, edit a little; then they call it 'journalism', irrespective of the proven track record of EPO management lying to staff and to the media



  24. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 03, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, July 03, 2020



  25. Monopoly Abuse, Still: Microsoft Pays Projects to Embrace/Move to C#, GitHub and Visual Studio

    Microsoft's greatest of efforts to lull regulators into inaction and fool us all into thinking that things have changed are undone by actual behaviour, which is abusive, anti-competitive and just... typical Microsoft



  26. Links 4/7/2020: Grml 2020.06 and diffoscope 150 Released

    Links for the day



  27. [Humour/Meme] Don't Let a COVID Crisis Go to Waste When You're Eager to Find Excuses for Many Layoffs and Shutdowns

    Microsoft business units that were defunct (long-failing, well before COVID-19) are being thrown out and Microsoft exploits a virus to rationalise these decisions while spicing up media coverage with "Hey Hi" (AI) and "virtual" experience or Facebook (to give the false impression that nothing really goes away)



  28. Free Software Tackles Political Issues. Political Tactics Are Also Being Weaponised Against Free Software.

    Divide-and-rule tactics seem to have been exploited to weaken collaborative work on Free/libre software; the response to these tactics needs to start with realisation that this is going on (even if it's done in a somewhat clandestine nature)



  29. Offence and Racism

    o those in positions of power and privilege (financial) you are controllable by guilt; dividing us and causing us to feel guilt and fear (over potential offence) is a powerful social control mechanism and pretext for dismissal, censorship, humiliation



  30. Links 3/7/2020: TrueNAS 12 Beta 1, Librem 13 Product Line

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts