(Corrects name of former Orange CEO in seventh paragraph)
* Richard to make his case to the board for a new term in autumn-source
* Board to meet in February 2018 to decide on Richard’s bid-source
* Renewal of Richard’s mandate depends on decision by French state
By Mathieu Rosemain and Gwénaëlle Barzic
PARIS, June 9 (Reuters) - Orange’s Stephane Richard has told the company’s board that he will be a candidate for a third term as chief executive from 2018, two sources close to the group told Reuters.
The French state owns a controlling 23 percent stake in the telecom operator and remains kingmaker at the former monopoly.
Richard’s bid will likely be reviewed by those at the top of France’s administration, now under the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron.
Richard has led France’s biggest telecom operator since 2010 and his current four-year mandate is set to formally expire in May 2018.
“He told the board in March that he wanted to apply for a third term,” one of the sources said.
Richard will present his case for a new mandate to the board in the autumn and the board is set to make its final decision in February of next year, one of the sources said.
He succeeded former CEO Didier Lombard during a tense period at the company between unions and top management, as the group faced a wave of employee suicides in 2008-2009 following an internal reorganisation.
Richard is credited with having restored confidence within the group between employees and executives and improving the company’s financial results after the arrival in 2012 of Iliad’s low-cost brand Free, which has triggered a protracted war in the mobile business.
But he failed to reshape the telecoms market in France by cutting the number of telecoms operators from four to three through the acquisition of rival Bouygues Telecom last year.
Under his leadership, Orange has notably expanded its telecoms activities overseas in Africa and decided to launch a new online banking service. The group is still looking at ways to better compete with rival Altice by deepening its commercial ties with Vivendi’s pay-TV Canal Plus.
Separately, Richard may face a trial over allegations of fraud alongside French businessman Bernard Tapie.
The Tapie case concerns payments the entrepreneur received in 2008 from the French government while Richard was chief of staff to Christine Lagarde, then France’s finance minister. (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Elaine Hardcastle)