| Fabrice Fries |
|Born||10 March 1960|
|Alma mater||Lycée Henri-IV, Lycée Louis-le-Grand, Sciences Po, École normale supérieure, École nationale d'administration, Berkeley, Harvard|
Fabrice Fries is CEO of Agence France-Presse (AFP), one of the three news agencies providing the vast majority of news (especially international) in corporate media (the other two are Reuters and Associated Press). His career shows the seamless moves possible for people with privileged background between the bureaucracy, big corporations such as PR-companies, and corporate news, no matter the level of incompetence.
Fabrice Fries belongs to the influential French industrialist Seydoux-family.He is the brother of Charles Fries, former French ambassador to Turkey. His maternal grandfather is François Seydoux, French ambassador to West Germany and NATO.
Fries had an elite education, from the most prestigious lyceés and universities in France. After leaving ENA, Fabrice Fries joined the Finance Ministry, before joining the cabinet of the President of the European Commission, as part of Jacques Delors' 'dream team', in 1990.
From 1995 to 2002, he joined the multinational Compagnie Générale des Eaux, as project manager for the Chairman and CEO. During this period, CEO Jean-Marie Messier and his team renamed the Compagnie Générale des Eaux (CGE) as Vivendi, with a spree of purchases and mergers which resulted in the corporation in 2002 announcing a net loss of 13.6 billion euros, the largest ever posted by a French group and a debt of 28.9 billion euros.
When Vivendi took over the multinational advertising and public relations company Havas in 1997, he was appointed director of strategy and development and led the refocusing of the company's activities on publishing and the press.
Havas was renamed Vivendi Universal Publishing and Fabrice Fries became its deputy managing director, in charge of press and professional magazines divisions, with brands such as L'Express, as well as many health information brands around the world.
In 2001, Vivendi decided to focus on consumer publishing and got rid of its specialized press branch Vivendi Universal Publishing headed by Fabrice Fries. As part of this separation, he was briefly chairman and chief executive officer of Medimedia and Aprovia, two companies resulting from the sale of Vivendi's professional press activities (Le Moniteur, Usine nouvelle, LSA, Le Quotidien du Médecin, etc.) to hedge funds.
In 2003 Fabrice Fries briefly returned to government and, building on his 'success' in the-business-world, he was appointed project manager by the Minister for Industry on the financing system for the video game sector, then by the Minister of Culture and Communication on the regulation and development of the video game sector (under the Raffarin government in 2003-2004).
In 2004, Fabrice joined the IT and consultation multinational Atos Origin as Senior Vice President, responsible for key accounts and market strategy.
In September 2006, he was appointed Secretary General - and member of the Executive Committee - of Publicis, the third largest PR-company in the world, before taking over as head of Publicis Consultants, an agency specializing in corporate communication (i.e propaganda), crisis communication and press relations in June 2009. He moved on in 2016. During his time, turnover fell from 88.2 to 36.8 million euros, a decrease of 58.3%; and the workforce fell from 400 to 170 people, a drop of 57.5%. Fabrice Fries received 360,000 euros as a golden handshake, and 180,000 euros salary in the last 6 months.
In 2017, he returned to the Ministry of Finance, which regularly preaches wage austerity for the public service.
On April 12, 2018, he became president and chief executive officer of the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency after obtaining a qualified majority by a vote of its board of directors (13 votes out of 18) in a third ballot.
Four days later, on April 16, thee members of the board of directors that appointed him wrote to Minister Françoise Nyssen:
"We have decided to send you this letter to let you know how amazed we are. which this process took place, contrary to all the good governance practices that would be suitable for such an enterprise ”...this Pyrrhic victory, that happened on order...is not the right solution to establish real future legitimacy vis-à-vis all of the agency's stakeholders." The board members protested that the election jeopardize the "real independence of the agency vis-à-vis the State" and raises questions of "conflicts of interest".
In an interview, Fries stated "The three big agencies [...] do not play the same role of 'gatekeeper”' that we did 20 years ago." "News agencies can no longer only report facts: they must now debunk fake news and this is a new mission for AFP."
In another interview he said “the nature of our clientele is also changing. We had one client category – the press, which is suffering. Today the clients are big tech,”. Facebook, for example, is one of his clients. “Our journalists do the fact check. Once that is complete, we see a message beside the news that the story has been fact-checked by AFP. If the story is different, we see a message saying AFP has a different version of the story. If the story is fake, we notify that the story is fake and if someone likes or shares a fake story, it reminds the person who is liking or forwarding the story that they are doing so with a fake story.”