Everything Everywhere 'lost a year' under the stewardship of former CEO Tom Alexander, according to a board member at the company.
Benoit Scheen, France Telecom's executive VP for Europe, reportedly made the comments at a dinner earlier this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. He is said to have told journalists: 'Tom Alexander was a nice guy but he wasn't an operations man. When you're merging two different boards, and you end up with a board of 24, you to make sacrifices.
'A year down the line we had a board with 24 people on it and no decisions had been made.'
Alexander stepped down as head of Everything Everywhere in 2011, a year after the merger of Orange and T-Mobile. When current CEO Olaf Swantee joined the company in September, he swiftly reorganised the management team, cutting middle management and director roles.
According to City AM, when Scheen was approached about the comments the next day he said he could not comment about Alexander as he was not in his current role during the former Everything Everywhere CEO's time at the company. He said his comments may have been misconstrued because English is not his first language. Alexander was reportedly unavailable for comment.
In a statement, France Telecom said: 'France Telecom wishes to reiterate its appreication for the work Tom Alexander undertook as CEO of Everything Everywhere in establishing it as the UK's largest mobile communications company. Tom successfully led the company during its first 18 months, bringing together the Orange and T-Mobile business.
'Having achieved this he stood back for personal reasons and on amicable terms and he and his contribution to Everything Everywhere's success continue to be held in high regard by the company's shareholders.'
Phil Kendall, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, said Everything Everywhere did experience a slowdown during its first year but it was not straightforward to lay the blame solely with Alexander. He said: 'There was a huge amount of integration that needed to happen. I don't know on what basis France Telecom felt that could have been done any better. Look at massive mergers like Sprint and Nextel. They had to go through five years of pain post-merger. To my mind they performed pretty well.'
Editor: Graeme Neill