THE tale – probably apocryphal – of Alexander’s appointment at Orange is that, over dinner, he was asked by a senior director what he would do if he was in charge. The director was so blown away by the vision, he asked Alexander to run the company.
Four years later, after the merger with T-Mobile, the City has interpreted Alexander’s shock departure as a sign that Everything Everywhere owners France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have lost faith in that vision.
Industry sources say top brass are unhappy with the progress Everything Everywhere has made towards hitting tough profit margin targets and this, coupled with genuine “personal reasons” for Alexander, led to the departure.
Now the job of hitting these targets will fall to Orange’s European head Olaf Swantee.
The charismatic Alexander, known for his love of racing sports cars, will remain in the position until 31 August, when Swantee will take control.
His departure will mark the second time Alexander has left a top job in the telecoms industry – the first being after the sale of Virgin Mobile, which he was instrumental in setting up, to NTL in 2006.
Alexander, already a rich man before joining Orange, will remain on the payroll as a consultant until at least the end of the year and City A.M. understands he may also be kept on as an adviser to the firm after this.