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Le Monde removes publisher for complaining about 'moral harassment'

Éric Fottorino dismissed as president of the management board after complaining of "moral harassment

Matthieu Pigasse, a Lazard banker, Pierre Bergé, co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, and Xavier Niel, a telecommunications entrepreneur, jointly took control of Le Monde last month.

Éric Fottorino will be replaced by Louis Dreyfus, the director of a culture magazine owned by Pigasse.

Although Fottorino will continue in his role as publisher of the daily, "a new management team for the newspaper will be proposed in the first weeks of 2011," the group said in a statement. He will step down from his role as director when a replacement is found next year.

Last week Fottorino said in an email addressed to the new owners that he believed their claims that they would work with the management to fix the disastrous finances at the publishing company.

But he wrote that he now felt "betrayed" because they had kept none of their promises and instead were engaging in "managerial harassment."

Fottorino played a crucial role in convincing journalists to accept the trio's bid over an offer from group that included France Télécom, the Spanish publisher Prisa and the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur.