France Télécom loses head to French government

Head of new tech steps into Breton's shoes

Head of new tech steps into Breton's shoes

Thierry Breton has left his job as the chief exec of France Télécom, Europe's second biggest mobile phone operator, to take up a position in the French ministry of the economy, finance and industry.

A statement from the French presidency made the change official: "Following the proposal from the Premier ministre, the President of the republic has named M. Thierry Breton as the minister for the economy, finance and industry."

France Télécom declined to comment on the appointment.

Thierry Breton was approached to become successor to outgoing minister Herve Gaymard following the Cabinet reshuffle last November.

Breton will have to get used to a different lifestyle in his new position, taking a significant pay cut - from his France Télécom salary of €1.4m to a minister's pay cheque of around €168,000.

Shares in the telco fell slightly on the Paris Bourse following news of the change of CEO. Since taking the helm back in 2003, Breton transformed the France Télécom, cutting debt by around €30bn during his tenure. The company, which posted a loss of over €20bn when he took up the position of CEO, made over €2.8bn net profit last year.

Didier Lombard was chosen yesterday by the France Télécom board as Breton's successor. Lombard was previously head of France Télécom's new technologies unit.

Philippe Leroy writes for ZDNet France