Orange CEO steps down

Sanjiv Ahuja has relinquished his roles at Orange and France Telecom, to be replaced in part by HP vice president Olaf Swantee

Orange's chief executive has stepped down to pursue other interests.

Sanjiv Ahuja has worked for Orange for four years, having joined as chief operating officer in April 2003, moving into the chief executive's seat almost a year later. He will remain chairman of Orange UK and advisor to Didier Lombard, the chief executive of Orange's parent company France Telecom. Ahuja has also relinquished his role as executive vice president in charge of personal communication services in the UK and EMEA for France Telecom.

Ahuja claimed that his mission of integrating Orange into France Telecom and converging its telecoms services is now complete. "After four great years… the time is now right for me to move ahead with a series of new ventures with the aim of exploring some of the fascinating opportunities that I believe this sector still holds," he said on Thursday.

Ahuja's statement indicated that these new ventures are connected with emerging markets, although further details have not yet been released. France Telecom will be a partner in at least one of the ventures.

Olaf Swantee, currently senior vice president of enterprise sales and software for HP, will take over Ahuja's role as executive vice president in charge of personal communication services, UK and EMEA, and will join France Telecom's group management committee. "We are delighted to welcome our new colleague Olaf," said Lombard on Thursday, adding that Swantee's "management skills and extensive experience in the international IT field will obviously be of tremendous benefit to our business and its customers".

As for the role of Orange chief executive, the role will no longer be associated with any operational responsibility.