Michel Combes ousted from Altice as shares continue to fall

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Altice founder Patrick Drahi takes back control and makes US head Dexter Goei group CEO

Michel Combes has left Altice, which he joined two years ago and where he became CEO in June 2016.

He has been replaced at the top of the company by the founder, Patrick Drahi, who will be president of the board. At the same time Dexter Goei, the CEO of Altice USA, will have the added role of being CEO of the group company.

Drahi gave no direct reason for replacing Combes, though Altice’s share price has dropped from €18.98 at the start of the year to as low as €10.21 today.

Drahi said: “As CEO, Michel critically created the group structure to operate a transatlantic communications business while driving key technology, research and innovation initiatives, which will serve Altice for the future. I would like to personally thank him for his contribution, integrity, loyalty and friendship.”

Before Combes joined Altice, which owns French mobile operator SFR and US cable operator Suddenlink, he was the last CEO of Alcatel-Lucent before it was taken over by Nokia. He said in June 2015 that he would stay at Alcatel-Lucent “until the deal was done”, but left in September, four months before the €15.6 billion takeover was complete.

He’d been at Alcatel-Lucent only since early 2013, when he became CEO after the previous boss, Ben Verwaayen, was fired.

Altice said that Goei will continue to focus on the US as CEO and chairman of Altice USA, and will assume responsibility for key central group functions.

Dennis Okhuijsen will become CEO of Altice Europe CEO as well as continuing in the role of group CFO. Armando Pereira will be COO of Altice Telecom, with a prime responsibility for France. He will have responsibility for all core telecommunications operational functions across the group, said Altice.

Alain Weill, who is CEO of SFR Media CEO, will chair and be CEO of SFR group and will be COO of Altice Media, heading the group’s content and media convergence strategy in France.