We have often lauded Free.fr, one of France’s broadband miracle companies for its efforts to spread broadband to the masses. Never did we think we would be posting this: Xavier Niel, the chief executive of Free’s parent company, Iliad, was recently handed a suspended jail sentence for embezzling funds from a sex shop that allegedly was a front for prostitution racket. The 39-year-old was fined $320,000 for embezzling 5000 euros per month in cash from the operation over a three year period.
While in France, Neuf Cegetel, the third largest broadband provider in France behind France Telecom and Free went public last week, with stock showing continued strength. The company is valued at around five billion euros. The company has also acquired AOL’s access business in France.