Another ESI update: new CEO, Olfa Zorgati, to manage rest of acquisition

Nov 7, 2023 | Hot Topics

Remember how I wrote yesterday that it seemed nothing would happen in Keysight Technology’s acquisition of ESI Group since it was now in the hands of regulators? I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As expected, ESI’s board told regulators that it approved the acquisition and, as I didn’t expect to happen so quickly, that the board was significantly changing its makeup. Most notably, CEO Cristel de Rouvray has resigned from her board and CEO positions, effective immediately. The board also announced that CFO Olfa Zorgati was appointed as the new CEO, also effective immediately.

The new Chairman of ESI’s Board, Hamish Gray, said in the announcement: “Under [Ms. de Rouvray’s] leadership, ESI Group made significant progress and reached unprecedented heights. ESI Group’s Board has full confidence in Olfa Zorgati, who has been appointed as Cristel de Rouvray’s successor. Olfa Zorgati brings remarkable expertise and a strong strategic vision to continue ESI Group’s growth and success in the long term, including in the context of the upcoming integration process with Keysight in the months ahead.”

The press release also said that, under Ms. de Rouvray’s leadership, “ESI Group achieved remarkable levels of growth and success. Cristel de Rouvray played an essential role in the transformation and development of the company, and she leaves her position with an outstanding track record. Her vision, dedication, and leadership have been the pillars of the company’s success.” Ms. Zorgati had been ESI’s CFO.

My thoughts? CEOs are strategic and tasked with making deals happen, so I’m not surprised that Ms. de Rouvray will not remain at Keysight for the long term — but I hadn’t expected this to happen in advance of the deal closing. Of course, CEOs don’t typically have the family connection to a company founder, and perhaps it was simply time for the family to move on.

Ms. Zorgati (in tandem with Ms. de Rouvray) led the reorganization of ESI and the streamlining of its operations and teams and is likely to do a terrific job of shepherding the deal to a close.

ESI is scheduled to release earnings on Friday; we’ll see if there’s a comment from Ms. Zorgati.

Never a dull moment, eh?