PARIS-Bouygues SA, the French construction-to-media conglomerate, has taken a clear step toward choosing a successor to Chairman and Chief Executive Martin Bouygues by naming two more deputy CEOs.
The head of its telecoms unit, Olivier Roussat, and Chief Financial Officer Philippe Marien will assist Mr. Bouygues in his duties as CEO, the company said, alongside Olivier Bouygues, Martin's brother, who has been deputy CEO since 2002.
Wednesday's announcement sends a strong signal about Bouygues' future plans and puts Mr. Roussat-the youngest of the trio of deputy CEOs at 51 years old and a highly regarded executive in France-in a strong position. Mr. Marien, 60, and Olivier Bouygues, 65, are both in the same age bracket as Martin Bouygues, who is 64.
The "appointment of two deputy CEOs suggests succession planning for Martin Bouygues's departure [is] well under way," said Jefferies analyst Jerry Dellis.
Martin Bouygues, who has led the family-controlled company since 1989, has previously said that he would like his succession to be sorted by 2017, although a person close to him said Wednesday that this target could change. At the company's annual general meeting in April, Mr. Bouygues told shareholders that he would make his "position evolve" in one or two years "to bring closer to me people who are younger?and more attuned to the modern world."
Having named his son, Edward, and his nephew, Cyril, both in their early 30s, to the board of directors at the meeting, he told shareholders that he would give the board more suggestions for his successor in the coming months.
The appointments were announced as Bouygues said its profitability should continue to increase in 2016, boosted by an improving performance at the telecoms unit it tried unsuccessfully to sell earlier this year.
Since the collapse of the deal, Bouygues has renewed a pledge to cut costs and boost investment at Bouygues Telecom in a bid to turn around the unit that was once the group's cash cow. The proposed ?10 billion ($11.14 billion) sale to bigger rival Orange would have reduced the number of network operators in France, where a long price war has eroded telecom operators' profitability, to three from four.
"The strategy rolled out by Bouygues Telecom over the last two years is paying off," the company said.
On Wednesday, Bouygues said sales at its telecom unit rose 6% to ?2.29 billion in the first half, with the company expanding its mobile customer base. The net loss attributable to the telecom business narrowed to ?12 million from ?66 million a year earlier, while it posted an operating profit of ?38 million compared with a ?54 million loss in the same period last year.
In construction, Bouygues' largest business, first-half sales fell 5% to ?11.38 billion, offsetting the rise in sales at Bouygues Telecom. But the company said the construction sector in France was "stabilizing" and its order book fell only 1% compared with the same period last year.
Bouygues shares rose 3.8% to ?29.20 in morning trading.
Net profit at the group level rose 32% to ?152 million on a 3% drop in revenue to ?8.14 billion in the three months to June 30. Operating profit rose 8.8% to ?284 million.
Bouygues said it would stick to its full-year revenue and earnings targets.
Write to Nick Kostov at Nick.Kostov@wsj.com