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Shot Down in mid-Flight

Alcatel Alsthom: Shot Down in mid-Flight (2002)
(Full text)

Table of Contents

Chapter I - The Apprenticeship
Chapter II - Roxane
Chapter III - The Privatization of CGE
Chapter IV - The Birth of Alcatel NV
Chapter V - Towards Alcatel Alsthom
Chapter VI - Alcatel Alsthom
Chapter VII - International Expansion
Chapter VIII - Reaching the Summit
Chapter IX - The Tarpeian Rock
Chapter X - Politics and Accusations - The "Affairs"
Cover of the book


I wish to express my wholehearted appreciation



“There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens…
A time to rend, and a time to sew, a time to be silent, and a time to speak....”

Ecclesiastes 3


Chapter I - The Apprenticeship

Ton affaire, c’est de jouer correctement le personnage qui t’a été confié; quant à le choisir, c’est l’affaire d’un autre.
(It’s your business to properly play out the character that you were assigned; as for choosing it, that’s the business of another.)


Chapter II - Roxane

Aliquando et insanire jucundum est.
(It is sometimes good to be a little crazy.)
Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi ad Serenum


Chapter III - The privatization of CGE

Que chacun fasse donc le métier qu’il sait faire!
(That every man perform the job that he knows how to do!)
Aristophanes, The Wasps


Chapter IV - The Birth of Alcatel NV

Et quel temps fut jamais si fertile en miracles.
(And what time was ever so fertile with miracles.)
Racine, Athalie


Chapter V - Towards Alcatel Alsthom

Il faut être plus grands, malgré nous.
(We must be greater, despite ourselves.)


Chapter VI - Alcatel Alsthom

Pousser en commun, mais non penser en commun.
(Push forward communally but don’t think communally.)
Marcus Aurelius, Thoughts


Chapter VII - International Expansion

Cras ingens iterabimus aequo.
(Tomorrow we take our course once more over the mighty seas.)
Horace, Odes


Chapter VIII - Reaching the Summit

Et je dis à mes yeux qui lui trouvaient des charmes :
Ailleurs tous vos regards, ailleurs toutes vos larmes,
Aimez ce que jamais on ne verra deux fois.

(And I said to my eyes which noted her charm:
Always focus your eyes elsewhere, always focus your tears elsewhere,
Love what one will never see a second time.)
Alfred de Vigny, La Maison du berger


Chapter IX - The Tarpeian Rock

…et tacitum vivit sub pectore vulnus.
(...and a silent wound lives under her chest.)
Virgil, The Aeneid


Chapter X - Politics and Accusations: The "Affairs"

La rançon des grandes actions, c’est la bassesse quand elle prend sa revanche.
(The price of great acts, it’s baseness when it takes its revenge.)
Charles de Gaulle



Quel plus terrible fléau que l'injustice qui a les armes à la main.
(What more terrible curse than injustice with arms in hand.)
Aristotle, Metaphysics



Letter from the Chairman of CGE dated December 12, 1983
My response to the December 12, 1983
Letter Concerning Salvation
Note to the Chairman of CGE concerning LTT (November 1983)
CGE-ITT Agreement – December 1986
Address of Pierre Suard presented to the Académie des Sciences of Lyon on December 22, 1987
(Dissertation – Académie des Sciences, Belles-lettres et Arts de Lyon pour l’année 1987)
Letter from Chancellor Kohl dated November 27, 1990 in Reaction to the October 3, 1990
Letter Addressed to Alcatel’s German Employees on the Occasion of the Reunification of Germany
Open letter from the Shareholder Employees of Alcatel Alsthom to the Minister of Justice and the Response of the Minister of Justice

<< Epilogue   -   Cover of the book >>

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Cover of the book

Charged on March 10, 1995 and subjected to a draconian judicial control—on the basis of facts which, seven years later, still have not been proven, much less judged—Pierre Suard had no choice but to resign. That day, the slaying of the Chairman of Alcatel Alsthom ended a grand ambition.

The Alcatel Alsthom Group, an essentially French company at the beginning of the 1980s, had become, ten years later, the uncontested world leader in telecommunications and cables and one of the top companies in transport and energy. It was an exceptional success, due to the work of a management team joined around a man who knew how to make it share a great dream. The Suard era was a period of audacity, imagination and tenacity, and one that saw the emergence on the world scene of one of the most beautiful jewels of French industry.

With the departure of the man who incarnated this spirit of conquest—and the radical changes undertaken by his successor—Alcatel Alsthom was abruptly stopped in its flight…. When anything was permitted, the company soon lost most of its business activities, its name, its world rank. Seven years later one still does not know where this descent into hell will end. The work of Pierre Suard, if it provokes controversy, is not a pro domo defense. With a necessary hindsight, pressed by those who like him believed in this great dream, this captain of industry submits, for the reflection of all, an edifying account of what transpired. He gives his interpretation of the events that interrupted this unique industrial and human adventure, to the astonishment of many. What a waste!

<< Appendices - Table of Contents >>