Thursday, April 24, 2014

Capitalism, French style

Reuters --

France's treasury chief, Ramon Fernandez, is expected to join state-backed telecom group Orange as chief financial officer, according to the Wall Street Journal. A person close to the matter earlier told Reuters that Fernandez, who has held the Treasury post since 2009, was likely to move to Orange but could not specify in what role. Such a move, to the second most senior job at Orange, would underline the continued influence of the French government at the group. The state owns 27 percent of Orange and holds 3 of 15 board seats, so effectively chooses its chief executive officer. 

In France it's considered normal for senior civil servants to move into senior corporate executive positions. In this case it's the former France Telecom but the same thing happens for banks. Whether that's a bad thing or a good thing is not clear but it probably means that France has its own class of American supermanagers à la Thomas Piketty, they just get to that category by a different route.