June 16, 2015 / 10:37 AM / in 2 years

Orange CEO received death threats after Israel dispute: source

PARIS (Reuters) - French police are investigating death threats made against Orange Chief Executive Stephane Richard following a public row with Israel, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

French telecom operator Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard speaks during the company's 2014 annual results presentation in Paris February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Richard’s personal details were put online and he then received about 100 phone calls, with some containing death threats, the judicial source said. Paris police had opened an investigation after Richard filed a complaint.

Orange did not immediately return a request for comment.

Israel protested to France after Richard said earlier this month that he would terminate a licensing arrangement with Israel’s Partner Communications “tomorrow morning” if the contracts allowed. Orange is 25 percent owned by the French government.

Partner operates under the Orange brand name through a licensing deal that is believed to expire in 10 years but has no other connection to the French company.

Richard visited Israel last week and told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he profoundly regretted remarks which he said were misinterpreted to make it sound as if he supported a boycott of Israel.

Richard said he had been speaking of ending the licensing deal in Israel on purely business grounds. Orange has spoken in the past of wanting to take back full control of its brand.

Reporting by Chine Labbe; writing by Michel Rose; editing by Andrew Callus and Keith Weir

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