Industry association GSMA’s board elected Telefonica chairman and CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete (pictured) as its new chair, with the executive set to take over from outgoing Orange chief Stephane Richard.

Alvarez-Pallete will take the role from 1 February until end-December 2022. GSMA deputy chair Rima Qureshi will continue in her current position, which she has held since the start of 2021.

In a statement, the Telefonica chief noted he would help support the GSMA’s drive in “critical issues” including “responsible leadership to drive growth, job creation, sustainability, and accelerate digital inclusion”.

The incoming chair is one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming MWC22 Barcelona event.

Stephane Richard departs the role of GSMA chair after three years. He had been re-elected in 2020 for a term set to end in December 2022, but announced he would stand down from his position leading Orange after being found guilty by a French court at the conclusion of a long-running legal case.

GSMA director general Mats Granryd stated Richard’s “leadership was steady and supportive throughout a challenging period”.