MOSCOW, March 13 (Reuters) - Telecoms group Vimpelcom Ltd has named Jean-Yves Charlier, former head of France’s second-largest mobile operator SFR, as its new chief executive.
The new boss faces a tough challenge, with Vimpelcom having warned last month it expects a difficult year ahead, mainly due to the economic crises in Russia and Ukraine.
The Amsterdam-based mobile operator, which piled up more than $20 billion of debts when expanding outside Russia in 2011, is also reportedly in talks with Hutchison Whampoa over merging their Italian units.
Charlier will replace Jo Lunder as CEO of the firm, which operates in Russia, Italy and several emerging markets. Lunder is stepping down and will advise private equity firm APAX on investment opportunities, Vimpelcom said on Friday.
Lunder, who has been in Vimpelcom’s top job since July 2011, will leave the role on Apr. 13 but will serve as an adviser to Charlier during a transition period until July 13, it added.
Before he was chief executive at SFR, Charlier served as Vivendi’s telecoms chief and as the CEO of education technology solutions firm Promethean.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne has 47.9 percent of voting rights in Vimpelcom, while Norway’s Telenor has 43 percent. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Pravin Char)