Michel Van Den Berghe is leaving Orange Cyberdefense: the manager of the company confirmed the information this week, and the management of the group indicates that he will henceforth devote himself entirely to piloting the Cyber Campus project on which he has been working for several months now . The information was revealed by a column published on the website of the CFE-CGC, the majority union within Orange Cyberdefense, which then relayed a petition from employees opposing what was then mentioned as a “probable departure of the leader ”.
Following this initial publication, the group’s executives confirmed to Letter A reporters the leader’s departure, leaving the employees to hear the news in the press. According to several media which cite union sources, the cause of the departure is linked to an internal conflict between the manager of Orange Cyberdefense and the executive director of strategy and cybersecurity activities of the Orange group, Hugues Foulon. So far, his successor has not been announced, but employees hope to hear more within 15 days.
Who will take over?
Internally, the news is not well received. The CFE-CGC thus considers this departure as “a major risk for the future of the company” and is worried about his successor, fearing to see “a gravedigger manager and careerist” arrive at the head of the group. Sébastien Crozier, President CFE-CGC of Orange, also mentions the risks of departures within the company following this decision, recalling that the cybersecurity market is in perpetual tension. “The week has been quite difficult. An estimated 20% of employees have made the decision to leave Orange Cyberdefense in the coming months following his departure. This obviously worries everyone within Orange Business Services, since it is the activity that drives the turnover. His departure is a real loss. An entrepreneur replaced by financiers … ”, indicates the staff representative.
In the background, there is obviously the desire of the Orange group to push Orange Cyberdefense to an IPO. A project outlined at the end of 2020 and which would make it possible to better promote the strong growth of Orange Cyberdefense’s activity, which posted a turnover of 750 million euros in 2020, against 101 million in 2014. This this desire does not delight the unions either, who fear “a loss of synergies with OBS and its associated services such as the cloud or connected objects”, and denounce “a” carve-out “for the opening of capital for strictly financial purposes “. The project would be on standby for the moment, but in this context, the sudden departure of the historic leader of Orange Cyberdefense will not help reassure the troops.
Founding Chairman of Atheos, Michel van Den Berghe joined the orange group in 2014, following the takeover of Atheos. He took over as head of the Orange Cyberdefense group the same year, the date of its creation. Orange Cyberdefense, which brings together the cybersecurity activities offered by the Orange group, was built by integrating several companies, including Atheos and Lexsi. Since 2019, he was also responsible for piloting the Campus Cyber mission, a mission to which he now indicates that he wants to devote himself fully.