The shareholders of Orpea gathered in a general meeting in Paris for the first time since the publication of the shocking book “Les Fossoyeurs” which seriously damaged the model, the practices and the image of a group present in 23 countries and which manages more than 350 establishments for dependent elderly people in France.

If the scandal did not prevent Orpea from achieving a flattering turnover of 2.3 billion euros in the first half, up 11.7% compared to the same period in 2021, the group hopes to turn the page of the crisis after this AG which took place in calm. Sign of a return to the ordinary, the sale by the end of the year of 32 retirement homes in the Netherlands for 125 million euros was announced at the end of the day by press release.

In the morning, the chairman of the board of directors, Philippe Charrier, assured a half-full room that the group was going to “go forward”, “by correcting” what needed to be corrected. Creation of a “mediation system”, an “ethics committee” in France, “overhaul of the staff representation bodies”?: the first corrective measures have already been put in place, he assured .

“We have obtained encouraging information” on the group’s priorities, commented to AFP Louise Schreiber, head of sustainable development research for listed assets of the investment fund Mirova, shareholder of Orpea.

– “Intractable” –

The reconstruction of Orpea will be carried out under the impetus of its new managing director, Laurent Guillot. Arrived on July 1, he will join a deeply renewed board of directors.

In addition to his appointment, the shareholders approved more than 99% that of the former CEO of SNCF Guillaume Pepy, who will take over the chairmanship of the board of directors. “I will be transparent and I will be intractable on ethical and human issues,” he assured in a video broadcast during the assembly.

The shareholders also voted more than 99% in favor of the appointments of three other new directors: Isabelle Calvez, director of human resources for the Veolia Group, John Glen, chairman of the board of directors of Bic until May, and David Hale, managing director of Guerbet.

In a speech, Mr. Guillot hailed the “profound renewal” of the board and thanked the “experienced and renowned personalities” who agreed to join him to “participate in the refoundation” of the company.

For Unsa-Sams (autonomous health trades union), this renewal is however “insufficient”. In a leaflet distributed by some activists before the assembly, the union calls for “a complete renewal of the bodies and a strong representation of employees”.

The federal union of private health CGT sees in this renewal a “simple cache-misery”. “Nothing has changed in the establishments,” she laments, calling for the group to be placed under guardianship.

– No severance pay –

Shareholders were also invited to vote on the remuneration of the group’s managers.

They rejected 99.6% of the variable compensation of 563,666 euros for the year 2021 of the former managing director Yves Le Masne, as recommended by the board of directors.

This type of recommendation is observed “more and more in companies that are encountering notorious difficulties”, noted Lionel Lesur, associate lawyer at Franklin, to AFP. It seemed “indispensable” in the context of “the exercise of contrition that Orpea had to do”.

Yves Le Masne was sacked at the end of January after the “Des Fossoyeurs” revelations.

Subsequently, justice opened an investigation: Orpea is suspected of institutional mistreatment and financial offences.

The shareholders approved Mr. Le Masne’s compensation policy for 2022, which does not provide for variable compensation or severance pay.

“All the people who have committed embezzlement have left our company for gross negligence without any form of compensation,” said Mr. Charrier. This measure was applied to twelve head office managers.

The shareholders also approved the exceptional remuneration in the form of shares for Mr. Charrier, who ensured the general management of Orpea after the scandal and until the arrival of Mr. Guillot. It had been proposed by the board of directors to “reward” its “exceptional mobilization”.