Quick resignation at France Telecom

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The Independent Online

France Telecom's new chairman, Francois Henrot, has resigned for "personal reasons" only a week after his appointment, the French government said last night.

The job will go to Michel Bon, head of the state-owned employment agency, ANPE.

The news underlined difficulties at the state-owned company, which is struggling to convince employees to accept a change in its status, prior to a possible privatisation. Plans to "commercialise" the telecoms operator, in advance of an EU deadline for the liberalisation of telecoms services in 1998, have provoked heated opposition from public service unions.

The previous chairman, Marcel Roulet, was ousted after disagreeing with the ministry of information technologies and the Post Office over the pace of the shift to commercial status.

Mr Roulet was accused of moving too quickly and ignoring the workforce's concerns.

Mr Henrot was thought to be in tune with the approach of Francois Fillon, the telecommunications minister. But it seems Mr Henrot, too, became concerned the government would bow to union pressure, further delaying the change.