Gemplus loses CEO and chairman in management clear-out

Gemplus loses CEO and chairman in management clear-out

Antonio Perez and Marc Lassus have quit their respective positions as chief executive officer and chairman of troubled French smart card manufacturer Gemplus.

Ronald Mackintosh, an existing member of the board of directors, has been named as chief executive officer and chairman of the executive committee, effective immediately. Hasso von Falkenhausen, a former chairman of the company from 1997 to 1999, is to take over from company founder and chairman Lassus in early January. In addition, David Bonderman, founding partner of the Texas Pacific Group, has joined the board of directors and has been elected vice chairman, replacing Abel Halpern who remains as a director of Gemplus. Andrew Dechet and Dr. Bertrand Cambou have also resigned as directors.

The mass clear-out at the top of Gemplus follows a deterioration in the company's fortunes, capped by a dreadful Q3 trading statement which showed a 27% drop in revenues to 226 million Euros from the same quarter a year ago, and a ten per cent fall on second quarter results. Operating loss was EUR55.3 million, compared with an operating profit of EUR32 million for the same quarter a year ago. The company has been badly hit by weaknesses in the international market for SIM cards.

Perez, a former HP executive, was hired by Lassus to steer the company through its flotation last December. Gemplus says a committee of the board of directors will hire an international search firm to begin an immediate search for a new, permanent CEO and a new permanent chairman for Gemplus.

In a statement, von Falkenhausen and Mackintosh say: "We remain absolutely convinced of the power and potential of Gemplus technology...we need to rely on our strength in smartcards as we move up the value chain and develop software and service solutions around our core technology."

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