French behemoth France Telecom (FT) is reportedly on the brink of a ‘full-blown leadership crisis’, according to the Financial Times. The newspaper claims its chief operating officer and CEO in waiting, Stephane Richard, is pushing for current chief executive Didier Lombard to go quickly to allow the firm to turn a corner. FT is reeling from a reported 34 suicides among its staff since January 2008. Lombard is contracted until June 2011 but the FT cites unconfirmed sources as saying the board could ask him to go as soon as February this year. ‘The question the board members of France Telecom must ask themselves is whether the management and governance structure is well suited to the projects facing the group in 2010’, Richard told Reuters last week. ‘I am not asking for anything in particular’.
On 21 October 2009 CommsUpdate reported that FT had formally suspended its corporate restructuring programme until the end of the year, in the wake of the sad news that a 25th member of its workforce had committed suicide. Associated Press confirmed at the time that FT announced the suspension following a meeting with employee representatives called to address concerns over high levels of stress in the workplace. Didier Lombard has been the target of much criticism for the unfolding situation at the former state-owned telco, but says he will not resign.