To my surprise, when I put my mind to it, I couldn’t think of anyone. So I replied that I thought Bozotti would be re-appointed.
Yesterday he was.
The huge difficulty to be surmounted is that the French and Italian governments share, equally, a 27.6% state in ST and neither government will allow the appointment of a CEO from any country except their own.
The two countries have a very different attitude to ST. Italy wants it to be a specialist provider in certain niche – though very large niche – markets.
France wants ST to be Europe’s digital champion – competing at the leading edge with the world’s finest.
So the battle is ideological as well as patriotic.
The obvious answer was to appoint someone who wasn’t French or Italian, but that is fraught with difficulty. No one with a decent track record in the industry would want a job so circumscribed by political limitations. So, despite the availability of some great American CEOs, I can’t think of any who’d take the job.
Names have sometimes emerged – Jean-Yves Naouri, COO of Publicis, Marco Patuano, former CEO of Telecom Italia, Eric Meurice former CEO of ASML – but, it seems, either objections have been found to them or none of them wanted it.
It looks like they’ve kicked the can down the road – Bozotti appointed for one more year till May 2018, with a Frenchman, Jean-Marc Chery, appointed ‘Deputy CEO’.
It keeps the show on the road while allowing another year for politicking – something the Continentals rather like – and, with the chip industry fundamentals trending up, it probably doesn’t make much difference who is ST’s CEO for the next year.