Telecoms expert Combes joins Drahi’s Altice

PARIS European telecoms group Altice on Monday named sector expert Michel Combes as its chief operating officer and as chairman of its Numericable-SFR mobile phone business to help accelerate its expansion.

Combes is joining a company controlled by billionaire Patrick Drahi, who has been on a buying spree that saw his group buy Vivendi’s SFR, the second-biggest French mobile firm, to create Numericable-SFR.

Drahi also made a bid for SFR’s rival Bouygues Telecom, which was rejected.

Combes, 53, is leaving his role as head of telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent ahead of its takeover by Finland’s Nokia Corp.

Combes, who joined Alcatel from Vodafone in 2013 and was tasked with turning the company around, has more than 25 years of experience in the telecoms industry and a record as a cost-cutter.

Before joining Alcatel, he was CEO of Vodafone Europe, Chairman and CEO of TDF, as well as chief financial officer and senior executive vice president of France Telecom.

“His deep experience in the international telecom sector will help significantly reinforce our ability to successfully operate and integrate all of our affiliates and to continue to grow our footprint in new territories,” Altice CEO Dexter Goei said in a statement.

Altice is a multinational cable and telecommunications company with operations in France, Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, French overseas territories and Switzerland.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)