(Corrects name of former Orange CEO in seventh paragraph)
* Richard to make his case to the board for a new term in
* Board to meet in February 2018 to decide on Richard's
* Renewal of Richard's mandate depends on decision by French
By Mathieu Rosemain and Gwénaëlle Barzic
PARIS, June 9 Orange's Stephane
Richard has told the company's board that he will be a candidate
for a third term as chief executive from 2018, two sources close
to the group told Reuters.
The French state owns a controlling 23 percent stake in the
telecom operator and remains kingmaker at the former monopoly.
Richard's bid will likely be reviewed by those at the top of
France's administration, now under the leadership of President
Richard has led France's biggest telecom operator since 2010
and his current four-year mandate is set to formally expire in
"He told the board in March that he wanted to apply for a
third term," one of the sources said.
Richard will present his case for a new mandate to the board
in the autumn and the board is set to make its final decision in
February of next year, one of the sources said.
He succeeded former CEO Didier Lombard during a tense period
at the company between unions and top management, as the group
faced a wave of employee suicides in 2008-2009 following an
Richard is credited with having restored confidence within
the group between employees and executives and improving the
company's financial results after the arrival in 2012 of Iliad's
low-cost brand Free, which has triggered a protracted
war in the mobile business.
But he failed to reshape the telecoms market in France by
cutting the number of telecoms operators from four to three
through the acquisition of rival Bouygues Telecom last
Under his leadership, Orange has notably expanded its
telecoms activities overseas in Africa and decided to launch a
new online banking service. The group is still looking at ways
to better compete with rival Altice by deepening its
commercial ties with Vivendi's pay-TV Canal Plus.
Separately, Richard may face a trial over allegations of
fraud alongside French businessman Bernard Tapie.
The Tapie case concerns payments the entrepreneur received
in 2008 from the French government while Richard was chief of
staff to Christine Lagarde, then France's finance minister.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by
Leigh Thomas and Elaine Hardcastle)