Engie: Isabelle Kocher’s fate could be decided on Thursday

The schedule is accelerating at Engie: the non-renewal of the general manager Isabelle Kocher could be decided on Thursday by a board of directors which is mostly hostile to her, despite the political support expressed in recent days.

Isabelle Kocher

The schedule is accelerating at Engie: the non-renewal of the general manager Isabelle Kocher could be decided on Thursday by a board of directors which is mostly hostile to her, despite the political support expressed in recent days.

The fate of the only woman at the head of a large CAC 40 company was initially to be decided at a board meeting scheduled for February 26.

But an extraordinary meeting is called this Thursday, corroborating sources told AFP Wednesday morning, which could end a soap opera that has destabilized the energy giant for months.

“Indeed, a board of directors of Engie will take place tomorrow (Thursday)”, then confirmed the spokesperson of the government Sibeth Ndiaye during the report of the council of ministers.

Isabelle Kocher’s departure is probable insofar as she faces the hostility of a majority of administrators, said one of these sources close to the matter.

“Trust issue”

The independent directors sitting on the board are not favorable to him, said another source, citing a “problem of trust” with the leader.

The State, a shareholder with nearly 24% of the energy group, is also present on the board with several representatives and its voice can thus be decisive.

The government has not yet taken a public position on Ms Kocher’s fate, but has been careful not to support her explicitly.

“If this point is on the agenda, the decision of the representatives will be given to the members of the board of directors with a clear view of the governance,” said Sibeth Ndiaye only.

The decision will be taken “solely and exclusively with regard to (…) economic criteria”, assured Tuesday the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire.

The future of Ms Kocher, who ranks high among the most powerful women in the world according to Forbes, has been the subject of recurring rumors for months.

“A press campaign”, regrets the person concerned. “I am very motivated to continue my mission,” she told the Journal du Dimanche.

Transformation

This issue has also become political in recent days, with the public support shown to the leader by personalities from all walks of life.

In a column published by Les Echos, political leaders (Yannick Jadot, Xavier Bertrand, Anne Hidalgo, Cédric Villani …) and the business community (Frédéric Mazzella, Clara Gaymard …) pleaded for its renewal, welcoming in particular “its tremendous success ”On the issue of energy transition.

The European deputy of the presidential party LREM Pascal Canfin also expressed his support for him, believing that “the results are there”, in the newspaper l’Opinion on Wednesday.

The former GDF Suez has been engaged in a profound transformation for years, with an emphasis on three main activities: energy services, electricity from renewable sources and gas infrastructure.

A legacy of the past, the group is still present in nuclear power in Belgium and a little in coal, but is seeking to withdraw from this last activity, which is very polluting.

Isabelle Kocher has also defended its financial results in recent months, arguing that the strategic shift had made it possible to resume growth and that the stock price had started to rebound.

Various rumors

Behind his personal case still arises the future of the company, when the State gave itself the possibility of lowering its participation in the capital, within the framework of the Pacte law. The hypothesis of a sale of gas infrastructures was raised before being denied by the president of Engie, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu.

This dismantling scenario had panicked the unions, while the company is already deeply destabilized by the various rumors, according to several internal sources.

Isabelle Kocher had also vouched for the unity of the group. “Dismantle and sell Engie in apartments, no”, she had reacted a few months ago.

“That Bruno Le Maire stops wanting to rush decisions to land Isabelle Kocher, that he stops destabilizing this group, potentially to cut it into slices”, criticized the MEP EELV Yannick Jadot Wednesday on France Info.

(with AFP)