Saturday, 18 August, 2018

BT boss Gavin Patterson stepping down later this year

BT chief leaving after shareholder backlash, Companies & Markets News & Top Stories BT boss Gavin Patterson stepping down later this year
Russell Knight | 10 June, 2018, 10:26

Gavin Patterson will step down as chief executive of BT Group (BT), in response to board and shareholder pressure for new leadership at the telecom and media business.

Patterson led BT as the company invested billions in football rights for its pay-TV channels and he was also in charge when the company acquired the mobile phone operator EE for £12.5 billion in 2016.

Jan du Plessis, chairman of BT, thanked Patterson for his contribution but said the company needed a change in leadership.

BT said the board had already commenced a search to identify his successor, and expects to have a new head in place before Christmas 2018.

Mr Patterson has been seeking to reboot BT since a profit warning early a year ago, and told investors last month that it will take until 2021 for a return to profit growth as the company reorganises.

The subsequent revelation that BT paid Patterson £2.3m past year generated further negative PR, and at the start of June, it emerged that some BT shareholders were actively mobilising against him.

BT shares rose more than 2% in early trading.

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Unfortunately, Patterson also presided over the ongoing problems at BT Global Services - the organisation's IT services organisation that has long weighed heavily on the group's bottom line - and the fall-out from a major accounting scandal at its Italian operation also damaged him, as did the widening deficit in BT's pension plan.

Patterson, who has been at BT for more than 14 years and chief executive since 2013, will stay on in the top role until a replacement is found.

'Over the 1,732 days of Mr Patterson's tenure to date, BT's shares are down by 41% - dividends limit the total returns loss to around 24%,' he added. However, it's been a different story over the last two years.

The changeover comes just a month after BT announced plans to axe around 13,000 jobs and exit its BT headquarters in central London as part of a revamped cost-cutting drive meant to help save around £1.5 billion.

But the subsequent decline in the share price showed investors were not on side.

He said: "The board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team".

"BT is a great business and with the new management team I've recently put in place, is I believe very well positioned to thrive in the future".

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