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All change at top of SES

February 12, 2018

By Chris Forrester

Karim Michel Sabbagh, currently president & CEO at satellite operator SES, and Padraig McCarthy CFO, are stepping down.

Steve Collar, who is currently CEO of SES Networks, has been appointed as the next President & CEO of SES, becoming CEO Designate with immediate effect. Andrew Browne, who was until recently CFO of O3b Networks and CFO of SES between 2010 and 2013, has been appointed as the next CFO of SES, becoming CFO Designate with immediate effect. Over the coming weeks, they will work closely with Karim Michel Sabbagh, the current President & CEO, and Padraig McCarthy, the current CFO, in order to ensure a smooth handover.

The Board, in a statement, accepted the decision of Sabbagh to step down from his role of President & CEO, with effect from the next AGM of SES on April 5th 2018, in order to spend time with his family and to pursue new interests. Furthermore, McCarthy, CFO of SES, has informed the Board of his intention to retire during 2018 and it has been agreed that he will also step down from his current role at the next AGM on 5 April 2018; he will remain at the disposal of the company thereafter.

The news is not wholly unexpected. SES has struggled to get its message across to the market and its share price has suffered badly under Sabbagh’s stewardship. Moreover, it is widely accepted that he has failed to connect with staff.

Collar is a very different individual and has already much proven success under his belt from his time managing O3b and more recently the SES Networks division of SES.

McCarthy’s departure is unconnected with Sabbagh stepping down. He had previously expressed a wish to retire this year and the Board decided that it was better to combine the changes. Andrew Brown, the new CFO is seen as an extremely safe pair of hands.

The other members of the Executive Committee, being Ferdinand Kayser (CEO SES Video), Christophe De Hauwer (Chief Strategy and Development Officer), Martin Halliwell (Chief Technology Officer), Evie Roos (Chief Human Resources Officer) and John Purvis (Chief Legal Officer), all remain in place. A successor to Steve Collar as CEO of SES Networks will be appointed in due course.

SES Chairman Romain Bausch said: “We are extremely excited to welcome Steve and Andrew as our next CEO and CFO. They each have extensive experience with SES and the broader satellite industry, especially also as the architects of O3b, the fastest growing and most successful satellite start-up. We have confidence that, with our leadership team, our industry position, our solid balance sheet and our differentiated assets and capabilities, we are well positioned to deliver on our objectives. Karim steered the strategic positioning of SES in a fast-changing environment, built world-class capabilities with the leadership team and restructured our business and organisation to allow for full implementation of our strategy. Padraig has made an enormous contribution to the success of SES since he joined in 1995, enabling SES to develop its strong financial profile and balance sheet and grow into its worldwide leading position. I wish Karim all the best for his future endeavours and Padraig for his well-deserved retirement.”

“I am excited to lead SES into its next phase of development, building on the achievements of 2017 and the foundations that have been laid,”declared Collar. “I thank the Board for their trust and support. Our focus will be on strong execution in the short term, continuing to roll out differentiated services to our customers, and staying focused on the long term delivery of our forward-looking strategy.”


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