Spain's largest telecommunications carrier, Telefonica, confirmed on Friday the appointment of the new CEO, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, after a meeting of the Board of Directors.
Alvarez-Pallete, 52, is replacing Cesar Alierta, 72, who ran the company for 16 years.
Alierta had proposed Alvarez-Pallete as the new CEO, calling him "the best prepared executive to face the challenges arising from the digital revolution." Alierta will remain in the Board of Directors.
According to economics newspaper Expansion, four of the 18 members of the Board of Directors left on Friday voluntarily presenting their resignation, opening the door to a generational renewal that also looks for profiles more linked to technology and digital services.
The company also aims to bring more women and more foreigners into the Board. Currently there is only one woman and three foreigners.
Alierta, who led a big transformation within the company, will remain linked to it as part of the Board and also as executive chairman of Fundacion Telefonica, a body that aims at providing children and youngsters from emerging countries with digital education.
Alvarez-Pallete has been working in Telefonica for 17 years since he entered the company as finance manager in the international division in February, 1999. He was finance chief until 2002, when he was appointed Executive Chairman of Telefonica International.
In 2006 he became Chairman of Telefonica Latin America area and in 2011 Chairman of Telefonica Europe. In 2012 he was designated Chief Operating Officer.
This is the first time a Telefonica CEO is not driven by the government, as the company started in 1924 as a public company but it was privatized in 1997.
The company is one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers operating in Europe, Asia, and North, Central and South America.