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

11.14.19

Understanding Thierry Breton: “Mister Cash” Arrives at France Télécom

Posted in Europe at 5:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

  • Part 1: In the Beginning...
  • You are here ☞ 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


France Télécom and Breton
The “turnaround king” takes over as CEO at the troubled France Télécom (2002)

Summary: The psychological harassment of the France Télécom workforce led the “suicide wave” after Breton had left France Télécom

By 2002 Breton had acquired a reputation as an aggressive high-octane manager who was known for ruthless “cost-killing” and ambitious sales targets and who liked to say that he was putting his staff “under pressure” to get results.

According to the Wall Street Journal, one of his favorite sayings was, “Anything but results is philosophy”.

At the time France Télécom, Europe’s second-largest phone company, was carrying one of the largest debt loads in the world. Its $ 76 billion debt burden meant that all of its cash was being eaten up by interest payments, with nothing left over to reduce the principals on its loans.

Within weeks of Breton’s appointment as CEO, investors demonstrated their faith in the new leader of France Télécom by driving stock prices up to double the rock-bottom low. The French finance ministry’s level of trust was evident in the code name Breton was given during hiring negotiations: “Mister Cash”.

“At the time France Télécom, Europe’s second-largest phone company, was carrying one of the largest debt loads in the world. Its $ 76 billion debt burden meant that all of its cash was being eaten up by interest payments, with nothing left over to reduce the principals on its loans.”Just two months after taking over, Breton produced his rescue plan to France Télécom’s board of directors. The three-tiered plan called for slashing costs to increase cash flow, refinancing debt, and generating $16 billion from shareholders through a capital increase, all in efforts to save $30 billion over three years.

As soon as the board gave its approval, Breton put out a message to the company’s 50 top managers asking them to immediately join a conference call – it was eleven o’clock at night in Paris. Breton wanted to brief the managers to start implementing his plan the very next morning and, characteristically, he wanted to make them feel challenged rather than comfortable.

After only 18 months on the job at France Télécom, business was looking up. In that span of time Breton increased 2003 revenues 3.4 percent over the previous year to $58 billion, chiefly on gains in wireless and broadband Internet technologies. He boosted 2003 operating income to $12 billion—a 45 percent increase—through tighter financial controls and cost cutting. The company’s $76 billion debt fell to $53 billion.

The blueprint which Breton applied to France Télécom bears similarities to the overhaul he engineered at Thomson but there is a darker side to this success story.

It’s no secret that France Télécom started making headlines for all the wrong reasons under the management of Didier Lombard who took over the reins as CEO from Breton in February 2005 when the latter was appointed as Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry.

“This reorganization was imposed unilaterally in the absence of consultation with trade unions and was accompanied by a “suicide wave” of France Télécom employees (more than 60 between 2006 and 2009).”Lombard continued the group reorganization policy initiated by Breton and implemented a plan which foresaw the suppression of 22000 posts and the mobility of 10000 workers over three years between 2006 and 200). This reorganization was imposed unilaterally in the absence of consultation with trade unions and was accompanied by a “suicide wave” of France Télécom employees (more than 60 between 2006 and 2009).

Didier Lombard resigned as CEO in February 2011, a few months before the planned end of his term, but he remained on the France Télécom payroll as a “special advisor” until he left the company entirely in March 2011 due the controversy surrounding him and his € 500,000 annual “retainer” as an advisor.

French tribunal
In May 2019 Didier Lombard and six other former France Télécom executives went on trial accused of moral harassment linked to a spate of suicides among employees.

Lombard’s management of France Télécom came under judicial investigation from July 2012 onwards and together with six other former executives he went on trial in Paris in May 2019 accused of psychological harassment of the France Télécom workforce in connection with the “suicide wave” which accompanied the restructuring.

“…psychological harassment of the France Télécom workforce in connection with the “suicide wave” which accompanied the restructuring.”Although the “suicide wave” happened after Thierry Breton had moved on from France Télécom, some commentators have claimed that he bears a “moral responsibility” for laying the foundation of the toxic management practices pursued by Lombard and his colleagues.

In Parts 3 and 4 we will examine these matters in more detail.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

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. Links 6/12/2019: DRM in GNU/Linux and Sparky Bonsai

    Links for the day



  2. The EPO Rejects Innovation

    The EPO ceased caring about the needs of scientists whose work involves invention; instead, EPO management crafts increasingly lenient guidelines that yield illegal European Patents (not compatible with the EPC) that heavily-besieged EPO judges are unable to stop



  3. Startpage CEO Robert Beens in 'Damage Control' Mode, Trying to Get Startpage Relisted After Selling to a Massive Surveillance Company

    PrivacytoolsIO is being lobbied by the CEO of Startpage to relist Startpage, based on no actual refutations at all



  4. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 05, 2019

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 05, 2019



  5. Links 5/12/2019: qBittorrent 4.2.0, Expensive Librem 5 and OpenBSD Bugs

    Links for the day



  6. Microsoft Staff Repeatedly Refuses to Tell How Many People Use WSL, Defends Patent Extortion and Blackmail of Linux Instead

    The people who develop WSL (mostly Microsoft employees) get easily irritated when asked how many people actually use this thing; but more interestingly, however, they reveal their disdain for GNU/Linux and support for Microsoft blackmail (for 'Linux patent tax')



  7. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 04, 2019

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 04, 2019



  8. Links 4/12/2019: Tails 4.1, UCS 4.4-3 and Proxmox VE 6.1

    Links for the day



  9. Google Tightens Its Noose

    Now it’s official! Google is just a bunch of shareholders looking to appease the Pentagon at all costs



  10. Europeans Still Need to Save the European Patent Office From Those Who Attack Its Patent Quality

    Patent quality is of utmost interest; without it, as we're seeing at the EPO and have already seen at the USPTO for a number of years, legal disputes will arise where neither side wins (only the lawyers win) and small, impoverished inventors or businesses will be forced to settle outside the courts over baseless allegations, often made by parasitic patent trolls (possessing low-quality patents they don't want scrutinised by courts)



  11. We Never Accepted and Will Never Accept Corporate Money

    Corporate money is a unique problem because of its magnitude and the fact that it's impersonal; shareholders can only ever accept its supposed justifications if they're receiving something in return (of proportional worth to the payment/transaction)



  12. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, December 03, 2019

    IRC logs for Tuesday, December 03, 2019



  13. Links 3/12/2019: elementary OS 5.1 Hera, Plasma 5.17.4, Firefox 71

    Links for the day



  14. Laundering the Reputation of Criminals: That's an Actual Job

    An important reminder that the manufactured, paid-for (media is being bribed) image of Bill Gates is the product of the PR industry he enlisted to distract from his endless crimes



  15. 'Priceless' Tickets to the EPO's Back End and Team UPC

    CIPA's and the EPO's event (later this week) is more of the same; the EPO exists not to serve European businesses but a bunch of law firms and their biggest clients (which usually aren't even European)



  16. IRC Proceedings: Monday, December 02, 2019

    IRC logs for Monday, December 02, 2019



  17. New EPO Leak Shows That the Rumours and Jokes Are Partly True and We Know Who 'Runs the Show'

    Europe’s second-largest institution is so profoundly dysfunctional, a reprehensible kakistocracy of tribalism, money-grabbing career-climbing autocrats and possibly major fraud; today’s leak looks at what motivated and enabled the formation and latest incarnation of “Team Campinos”



  18. Links 2/12/2019: Linux Mint 19.3 Beta, DPL Sam Hartman Talks About SystemD

    Links for the day



  19. What Former Debian Project Leader (Second to the Late Ian Murdock) Thinks About SystemD in Debian GNU/Linux

    Now that Debian is debating and voting on diversity in the technical sense the thoughts of Bruce Perens merit broader audience/reach



  20. Free/Libre Software Will Eventually Become the Norm, 'Open Source' is Just Proprietary Software Trying to 'Buy Time'

    More people are starting to ask questions about Free software while “Open Source” languishes (people can see it’s just a mask for proprietary software); it was a two-decade delaying tactic that’s wearing off (people see GitHub and the OSI/Linux Foundation for what they really are)



  21. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 01, 2019

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 01, 2019



  22. Richard Stallman is Active and Doing Well

    The rumour mill may still be humming along; but against all odds — as Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project — Stallman keeps fighting the good fight (in the face of growing resistance)



  23. Banning Former Microsoft Employees Who Complain About Microsoft Lies, Abuses and Crimes

    The official account of Windows Insider is banning people whom it never even spoke to; this seems like a way of 'punishing' people who are not 'true believers' in Microsoft



  24. Wikileaks: Thierry Breton May Have Misused Regulatory/Government Positions to Attack His Competition (in the Market)

    Thierry 'revolving doors' Breton as seen by the United States government



  25. 13 Years of UPC Promises

    The anatomy of UPC 'fake news' or lobbying tactics along the lines of self-fulfilling prophecies and false predictions



  26. Is Water Wet?

    The criteria for patent eligibility reduced only to this question: will allowing these patents increase ‘production’ (number of patent grants)?



  27. The EPO's President Admits He's Illegally Granting Software Patents (CII, 4IR, IoT, AI and Blockchain Mean Software Patents at the EPO)

    The EPO's chief liar is openly and proudly promoting software patents using buzzwords and hype waves (and mysterious acronyms that are rather meaningless but spread by the media in exchange for money received from the EPO)



  28. Tone Policing and the Linux Foundation

    A timely example of situations where the Linux Foundation can seemingly 'cancel' people (using the Code of Conduct) for political opinions



  29. It EEEsn't Just a Microsoft Thing Anymore

    The EEErosion of Python's independence is a known problem and Microsoft is not the sole culprit



  30. Links 1/12/2019: KDE's GTK CSD Support, Skrooge 2.21.0

    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