Thales hires lawyer as group counsel joins France Telecom

Two of the biggest jobs in the French legal market have been filled, with France Telecom and Thales both appointing new general counsel.
Thales’ group general counsel Pierre Charreton takes charge of the 500-lawyer department at France Telecom, while former Alstom general counsel Andrew Hibbert has taken up the reins at 160-lawyer Thales.

The appointment of Charreton, who was at Thales for more than five years, completes a thorough review of France Telecom’s legal department, carried out by external consultants for the company’s new management.

Charreton replaces Francois Buge, who was acting general counsel, following the resignation of previous general counsel Jean-Pierre Mattout. The long-serving Buge returns to his role as deputy. Mattout has since joined Berwin Leighton Paisner’s US ally Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel as a partner.

As part of France Telecom’s review, Sullivan & Cromwell has reaffirmed its position as France Telecom’s corporate adviser of choice after advising the company on its first major deal since reviewing its law firm panel.

Sullivan was chosen ahead of panel rivals Clifford Chance and Shearman & Sterling to advise France Telecom on its acquisition of the remaining 46 per cent stake in Dutch telecoms company Equant. Sullivan was joined by Jones Day and Nauta Dutilh on the deal, which appears to confirm Shearman’s fall from the pre-eminence it enjoyed under the previous management.

Hibbert, who earned respect during a difficult time at Alstom, joins the French defence and aerospace conglomerate Thales as senior vice-president and general counsel. He will also sit on the company’s executive committee.