SFR's new CEO gets ready to beat back Free Mobile


Michel Combes, former CEO of Vodafone, takes the helm at SFR. At 50 years of age, he has tons of telecom experience, including a long stint at France Telecom. SFR has been battered in the market by Free Mobile. They lost 200,000 clients in the first two months after Free’s launch. Free Mobile covers 30% of the market now, and SFR has been struggling to respond to this. Part of their response is to launch a number of new phones in the near-future, including the much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S3.
Orange and Bouygues Telecom, the traditional competitors to SFR, have already responded to the Free Mobile assault by drastically cutting their subscription offers. SFR has yet to do this, and as such is suffering the most from the new competitor in a very busy market.
Combes, who specializes in cost-cutting, has already announced that the first round of layoffs will include 1000 employees, triggering an immediate negative labor union response.
Vivendi, SFR’s main shareholder after buying Vodafone’s 44% share, also commented that his international profile will greatly benefit him. Monsieur Combes is also taking a place on the management board of Vivendi.
We also wrote about Free Mobile and the french telecom market in this article about Orange.