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Orange CEO says he wants a second term

French telecom operator Orange Chief Executive Stephane Richard arrives at the Justice court in Paris March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuente
French telecom operator Orange Chief Executive Stephane Richard arrives at the Justice court in Paris March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuente

PARIS (Reuters) - Orange boss Stephane Richard has said he should be given a second term as chief executive of the state-backed telecom group despite an ongoing investigation of his role as a government aide in a 2008 arbitration case in which the state awarded a large payout to businessman Bernard Tapie.

Richard, who at the time of the arbitration was a senior Finance Ministry official, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

The Orange board is expected to meet on March 26 to decide if Richard will continue in his duties.

The French government, which owns 27 percent of the company, Europe's fourth biggest telecom operator by sales, effectively names the CEO of Orange and nominates three of its 15 directors.

"It is up to the board to decide ... I am clearly a candidate for a renewal of my mandate because I believe I can be useful to the company, and my motivation to serve the company is greater than ever," Richard told the French daily Les Echos in an interview.

"In fact, the question is: should we destabilize the group at a time when the sector is in turmoil for reasons that have nothing to do with Orange? The majority of the staff and of shareholders would not understand it," he added.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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