Thomson, the French media services group, ended its search for a chief executive on Thursday with the appointment of a former Alcatel-Lucent executive as it unveiled losses in the first half of the year.
Frédéric Rose, 46, will become chief executive from September 1, filling a gap left since February when Frank Dangeard gave up the role. Mr Dangeard also quit his post as chairman when he left in March after four years at the helm.
Mr Rose, a French-American national, was formerly president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Europe, Asia and Africa business and a member of the telecoms equipment-maker’s executive committee. Thomson, which is the world’s largest supplier of television set-top boxes, said “his strong working knowledge of businesses and markets close to those of Thomson” had weighed in his favour.
François de Carbonnel, Thomson chairman, said Mr Rose had “the youth and energy” to drive the company forward.
Mr Rose said in a statement his priority was to make the group fulfil its potential. “Thomson is capable of rebuilding significant and sustainable value for its shareholders and other stakeholders over time,” he said.
Thomson shares have fallen by 68 per cent since January as the company has struggled to find its way in the new digital era. It has incurred losses in three of the past four years.
Mr de Carbonnel told the Financial Times he did not expect “major perimeter” changes from Mr Rose but expected to see the new chief executive’s ideas between now and Christmas. Asked whether this would be the last loss-making year for the company, Mr de Carbonnel said: “We’ll see.”
Thomson reported a net loss in the first half of €182m – lower than analysts’ expectations – but wider than the €20m net loss recorded in the first six months of 2007.
Sales fell 15 per cent to €2.2bn which the company blamed on the loss of a contract and the weakness of the dollar. “We expect no change in the macroeconomic outlook which creates uncertainty in many of our businesses,” Thomson said.
But it moved to reassure markets by saying it expected higher revenues, profits and cashflow in the second half, in line with the seasonality of its business.
It expected sales in the third quarter to be similar, based on constant exchange rates, to the 4.3 per cent decline in the second quarter.