Belgacom CEO Bellens fired

Pascale Paoli-Lebailly | 19-11-2013

The Belgian Government has dismissed Belgacom CEO Didier Bellens following his criticism of telecoms regulation in the country.

The Government, which owns a 53.5% share in the company, has installed interim leadership in the form of chairman Stefaan De Clerck and chief financial officer Ray Stewart.

Belgacom SA is now looking for a new chief executive officer.

De Clerck told reporters in Brussels that it will be possible to get an idea of potential candidates in the coming weeks.
Bellens, 58, became CEO in 2003, and his post would have run until 2015 after it was extended for a six-year term in 2009.

He was dismissed after making fierce comments about Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and the phone company's dividends.

Bellens has expressed huge frustration that mobile operators were barred from installing a new, high speed 4G mobile network in Brussels because of the city's strict radiation regulations, although it is already used in Germany and the United States.

He was also reported to have told a Brussels business club meeting that, in receiving an annual dividend from Belgacom, Mr Di Rupo was like a child getting his present from Santa Claus.

Investors in the company view Bellens as having done a reasonable job at a tough time for European telecoms operators.