France Telecom has appointed a new deputy chief executive Stéphane Richard.
He replaces Pierre-Louis Wenes who is quitting to calm a political firestorm over employee suicides at the former state-owned phone company. The unions have blamed the suicides on stress caused by restructuring. A press release said Wenes, a former management consultant, had asked to “be relieved of his responsibilities.” He was closely identified with cost cuts and job moves. He had also said the suicides affected only “a small handful” of employees who could not adapt and that the situation was “not that bad.” Didier Lombard, France Telecom’s chief executive, had faced calls to resign from unions and left-wing political parties but the government said he had its full confidence. France Telecom has also said it will extend its freeze on restructuring until the end of the year.