ibusinesslines.com October 18, 2018

BT Group CEO Gavin Patterson is to Step Down Later in 2018

10 June 2018, 10:29 | Kelvin Horton

Gavin Patterson has been CEO at BT for almost five years

Gavin Patterson has been CEO at BT for almost five years

Gavin Patterson, the chief executive of BT, is to step down as frustrated investors pushed for change.

The telco has begun the search for a replacement and Patterson will remain in post until a successor has been found, most likely in the second half of 2018.

In a statement, BT chairman Jan du Plessis said that while the board was "fully supportive" of the overhaul outlined by Patterson, a change was needed.

"The broader reaction to our recent results announcement has though demonstrated to Gavin and me that there is a need for a change of leadership to deliver this strategy", he said.

Patterson, who has run BT for nearly five years, announced 13,000 job cuts last month in an attempt to get to grips with a host of problems including intense competition, an underperforming IT services unit, a huge pension deficit and criticism of its broadband plans.

However, the plansfailed to gain the approval of investors as its shares plunged to a six-year low the day the plans were revealed.

Patterson said he was "immensely proud" of what had been achieved at the former telecoms monopoly, including a multi-billion pound move into sports broadcasting, buying Britain's biggest mobile operator EE and a hard-won agreement to create greater independence for its networks business Openreach.

Patterson's exit also follows major restructuring at BT.

During his tenure at BT, Patterson steered the organisation through a gruelling Ofcom Market Review that ultimately resulted in the legal separation of BT from its network infrastructure business Openreach.

During his tenure, Patterson saw the firm through several hard spots, most recently an Italian accounting scandal and skirmishes with telecoms regulator Ofcom.

In January last year, BT wrote down the value of its Italian unit by £530m after it said it had uncovered years of "inappropriate behaviour".

BT shares rose more than 2% in early trading. The decision to overhaul the company was made to cut costs and boost profits as BT invests in 5G technology.

When you devise a strategy which has the "full support" of the board then you expect that you will be around to execute it. Gavin Patterson's departure is unusual in the sense that the board liked his plan, but didn't think he was the person to carry it out.

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