BT chief leaving after shareholder backlash

LONDON • BT Group chief executive Gavin Patterson is leaving after five years at the helm of the former British phone monopoly, following a strategy reset that failed to win over investors.

He will step down when a successor is in place, likely in the second half, BT said in a statement yesterday. The board has started a search for his replacement.

The departure marks an about-face by a board now bowing to shareholder pressure for fresh blood at the top. Mr Patterson has been seeking to reboot BT since a profit warning early last year, and told investors last month that it will take until 2021 for a return to profit growth as the company reorganises.

Chairman Jan du Plessis, who had backed Mr Patterson at last month's strategy update, yesterday said shareholders had convinced him the CEO's time was up, even as the board is still "fully supportive" of the business plan.

Deutsche Telekom, BT's largest shareholder with a 12 per cent stake, has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Mr Patterson's performance over the past year, partly because of blunders like an accounting scandal in Italy, according to a person familiar with the situation.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2018, with the headline 'BT chief leaving after shareholder backlash'. Print Edition | Subscribe