Bebo names Panier as global chief executive

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The Independent Online

AOL has promoted a former Google manager to resurrect the fortunes of its social network Bebo, more than a year after the last chief executive left.

Stephane Panier was yesterday named head of Bebo's global operations, and has been handed the task of growing the business and adding more unique users in more countries.

Mr Panier replaces Joanna Shields, who oversaw Bebo's $850m (£520m) takeover by AOL in March 2008. She moved into the parent group shortly after to head up the People Networks business, before quitting in May to move back to the UK.

The social networking site currently has 24 million consumers worldwide, according to data site ComScore, but unique user numbers are falling.

Bebo also faces huge competition from MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. There was talk earlier this year that AOL had made a substantial writedown on the acquisition and the parent company was forced to deny reports it was looking to sell the site. Mr Panier was an internal promotion, having previously served as Bebo's vice president and chief operating officer. Before joining Bebo in January, he spent six years at Google. He worked on strategy and finance for the technology giant.