Alcatel-Lucent’s outgoing chief executive Michel Combes is reportedly set to join Europe’s ambitious communications group Altice, once the sale of the French vendor to Nokia is completed.
According to Challenges magazine, Combes, who announced his resignation as an independent non-executive director at Altice last week, will be brought in to lead the company’s telecoms development in Europe.
The company beefed up its European telecoms operations over the past year by acquiring Portugal Telecom’s Portuguese assets from Brazil’s Oi, and taking control of French mobile player SFR from Vivendi.
Alcatel-Lucent confirmed that Combes will be stepping down as a result of the Nokia deal but did not announce his next destination, or departure date. He said in April he would not be taking a role at the combined Nokia-AlcaLu entity, once the €15.6 billion deal is completed.
In a statement to Mobile World Live, Alcatel Lucent said: “Mr Combes has already officially announced that he intends to step down from his current position as part of the proposed merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia. At this stage, no date has been agreed with the Board of Directors.”
“Mr Combes’ departure date will be officially communicated once it has been decided, and consistent with what Mr Combes has stated on several occasions, his new responsibilities will be communicated when it is appropriate to do so,” it added.
He joined the company in 2013 in a bid to turnaround the troubled vendor’s fortunes following a tumultuous period under predecessor Ben Verwaayen.
Combes has been integral to the company’s sale to Nokia. The revival he inspired is seen as the reason why Nokia decided to take over the whole company, not just its mobile business, thus securing the vendor’s long-term position.
Combes joined Alcatel-Lucent after spending four years as CEO of Vodafone Europe, at a time when he was also courted by SFR, then owned by Vivendi, who named him as the company’s new chief executive in 2012, before the appointment broke down due to a management shakeup.
Altice, owned by billionaire Patrick Drahi, will look to Combes’ European telecoms experience to integrate its newly acquired businesses.
Altice is also expanding into the US cable market. It recently announced the acquisition of US regional cable operator Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion, after dropping ambitious interests in Time Warner Cable.