No.5 - XAVIER NIEL (ILIAD)


Age: 50

 

Years at current company: 28

 

Industry: Telecoms

 

Turnover: $5.6bn

 

Rate of growth:  5.6% in 2017

 

In the space of twenty years, Xavier Niel has become one of the icons of French innovation. After acquiring an erotic chat services publisher, which he renamed "Iliad" in the 1990s, he developed a new type of internet access offering in 2002 with Freebox ‒ combining telephony and television. Iliad quickly established itself as a well-known telecommunication group, operating in France, Italy and Morocco.

 

Notable success: The notion of freedom underpins his business plan. The businessman limits internal expenditure in order to control prices and offer products that are accessible to less affluent consumers.

Read the full Special Report: Top 100 Executives – 2018 Edition

A lack of a long-term strategy is a good indication of a company that lacks ambition, and this is often a fatal flaw. For our first ever Top 100 Executives list, Leaders League took the conscious decision to highlight those executives who, without losing sight of the present, have been able to envisage the future. It’s notoriously difficult to find a way for these two temporalities to coexist in today’s fast-paced digital world, but all those on our list have outstanding leadership abilities, iron determination and, of course, The Vision Thing.
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