Telefonica Names Pallete Chairman, CEO After Alierta Quits

  • Pallete takes over as company seeks to revive domestic unit
  • Board also nominates four new members to fill vacancies

Telefonica SA’s board named Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete chairman and chief executive officer, ending his mentor Cesar Alierta’s reign of almost 16 years at the helm of Spain’s former phone monopoly.

Chief Operating Officer Pallete, 52, will take over immediately, according to a statement from the company. Alierta, 70, announced his surprise resignation last week, ending a tenure that started in 2000. He will remain a board member.

With Pallete, Europe’s second-largest phone company will have a top executive who wasn’t appointed by the Spanish government for the first time in its 92-year history. Pallete joined Telefonica in 1999 and became COO in 2012, after running the company’s Latin American and European operations.

Pallete has progressively assumed more duties, running the operations of the company as Alierta withdrew from daily activities. The marathon-running executive has been instrumental in the company’s aggressive pricing practices in the midst of the Spanish financial crisis and in the decision to sell British assets and part of the German unit. He is also the driver behind the company’s expanding push into digital-focused businesses.

The 18-member board also nominated four new members: Ignacio Cirac, Javier Echenique, Sabina Fluxa and Peter Loscher. If confirmed, the new members will replace Fernando de Almansa, Carlos Colomer, Santiago Valbuena and Alfonso Ferrari, who resigned.

Telefonica shares rose 2 percent to 9.29 euros at 14:18 p.m. in Madrid. The stock is down 9.25 percent so far this year.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to remove a reference of need for shareholder ratification after the company clarified.)

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