Dividends and French telecom Orange to name first female chief executive

Many years ago in my job at at a bank, woman had a definite glass ceiling and while many good women were working there, there was a unwritten rule that woman could not be promoted to manager of a bank branch. Fortunately times have changed and more women are represented in the Board and maybe more than one CEO of a money centered bank in New York.

In an article by Mathieu Rosemain of Reuters, in France the biggest telecom company is called Orange and Christel Heydemann is to become the new Chief Executive Officer.

She will become the third woman CEO of the Paris CAC 40 blue chip index after Engie’s Caherine MacGregor and Veolia (a utility group) Estelle Brachlianoff.

Ms. Heydemann is a graduate of France’s elite engineering school Polytechnique and will replace Stephane Richard who was convicted of misuse of state funds but denies any wrongdoing.

The French government has deemed the company Orange to be strategic which means dealing with the President of France and the Finance Ministry overlooking their shoulder.

Orange is doing things similar to American telecom companies capital heavy investments in the new generation of internet mobile networks and broadband fibre-optic infrastructure. Its biggest markets are France and Spain. In addition in the mobile phone business there is a low cost competitor called Iliad’s Free Mobile which has resulted in price wars. Share prices are trading at prices about a third lower than 5 years ago.

Linking to dividend paying stocks, in this case it is often when governance is in a bit of a mess that women get promoted to the CEO’s position. However, it will be when Ms. Heydemann cleans up the company for investors. Women make up 50% of the population there is no reason to believe that they do not have the skills to be the CEO, but in the world change is slow. As investors whether it is a man or woman running the company should not matter, what matters is a profitable results.

There are more questions than answers, till the next time – to raising questions.

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