Le Monde Editor Quits After Intense Standoff With Staff

PARIS, May 14 (Reuters) - Natalie Nougayrede, first female editor-in-chief of prestigious French daily Le Monde, quit on Wednesday after a power struggle with top staff who last week staged a protest over her plans to revamp the newspaper.

Last week, seven senior editors stepped down from their posts after growing disputes over a planned new print format, a tablet edition and disagreements over planned personnel changes.

"The personal and direct attacks against the management and myself prevent me from implementing the transformation plan I put to shareholders and which requires the broad agreement of the editorial teams," Nougayrede said in an email to staff.

A foreign correspondent who cut her teeth covering eastern Europe and Russia, Nougayrede won prizes for her work on the Chechen conflict but had little previous experience within the newspaper's complex management structures.

Her resignation comes barely a year after Nougayrede won a record 80 percent support in the in-house ballot for the editor post following the sudden death of predecessor Erik Izraelewicz, who succumbed to a heart attack in his office.

Le Monde, whose print edition comes out around lunchtime, was launched at the end of Nazi occupation of France in 1944 and took on the role of France's newspaper of record alongside the more conservative Le Figaro.

In recent years the newspaper has plunged into debt as, like other media groups across the world, it struggled to maintain revenues amid the economic slowdown and rivalry from free Internet sites.

While staff still have a say in its running, industrialist Pierre Bergé, telecoms entrepreneur Xavier Niel and financier Matthieu Pigasse - a trio known as "BNP" - took a controlling stake in the group in 2010 to recapitalise it. (Reporting by Mark John; Additional reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)