Belgacom seeking CEO replacement after Bellens sacking

Belgacom has announced that chief financial officer Ray Stewart and chairman Stefaan De Clerck will jointly assume chief executive responsibilities following the sacking of Didier Bellens last week.

Stewart and De Clerck are to lead the Belgian incumbent until a full-time replacement for Bellens has been found.

The operator’s board of directors appears to have recruited an external headhunting agency to find a successor by drawing up a shortlist of qualified candidates.

The board of directors is required to present the most suitable candidates on this shortlist for the government’s approval.

“Belgacom [Brussels, Belgium] has all the assets to successfully meet the challenges in the telecom sector,” said Stefaan De Clerck. “We have a clear vision for the future, the right strategy and talented people that make the difference.

“Since 1997, Ray Stewart has helped build this solid foundation, and is therefore ideally placed to ensure a smooth transition period,” added De Clerck. “For this he has the explicit support of the entire board of directors and the whole management team.”

Although most Western European governments have fully or partly privatized their former state-owned telecoms monopolies, Belgacom is still controlled by the Belgian government, which holds a 53% stake in the business.

Bellens appears to have lost his job after making a series of comments that were highly critical of the government.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, he was fired by Belgian Prime Minster Elio di Rupo on Friday night.

“The repeated, accumulated outbursts have irreversibly damaged the confidence of the Belgian state in Mr Bellens,” di Rupo is reported to have told journalists. “The federal/ government revokes his mandate.”