Belgian telecoms leader Proximus announced on Wednesday it had elected Boutin to replace intermin CEO Sandrine Dufour.
The Frenchman will serve a six-year term starting on 1 December 2019. He had already been working at Proximus for the past two years and had previously occupied executive roles in France's Canal+ and SFR. The main objective of his tenure as CEO will be to ‘supervise the digitalisation of the company, execute its restructuring plan and prepare Proximus for the challenges it will have to face over the coming years along with the entire telecommunications sector’, according to the press release.
As part of the restructuring, former CEO Dominique Leroy had announced in January 2019 that she planned to cut 1,900 jobs and create 1,250 new ones in order to initiate a transformational digitalisation process. This was several months after she first announced she planned to step down as CEO, which roused outrage among employees and unions.
Following negotiations, the controversial plan now affects around 1,300 jobs. The appointment of Boutin comes with a restatement of Proximus’ desire to carry out its restructuring plan despite opposition from the unions.
The Belgian government owns a majority stake in Proximus which still sits at the centre of tensions with the UK. In September 2018, the Belgian federal prosecutor launched an inquiry into allegation that the British intelligence service, GCHQ, hacked into Proximus on the instruction of British ministers. These allegations were made by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. GCHQ refused to cooperation with the inquiry, claiming doing so could jeopardize its “sovereignty, security and public order”. The Belgian government subsequently invested around €50 million on improving the security of the network.