BT board begins search for new chief executive as Patterson to step down

The board of BT says it has asked Gavin Patterson to step down from his position as chief executive. The board has begun the search for a replacement, whom it plans to appoint by the second half of the year. Patterson will serve as chief executive until that time, maintains BT.

The board of BT says it has asked Gavin Patterson to step down from his position as chief executive. The board has begun the search for a replacement, whom it plans to appoint by the second half of the year. Patterson will serve as chief executive until that time, maintains BT.

Patterson, who has held the top spot for approximately five years, has overseen a period of significant changes at BT, as well as slipping performance. Last month, Patterson unveiled a new strategy to reverse the company's fortunes that included increased spending on fiber to the premises (FTTP) and mobile infrastructure, and a reshaping of the company's operational model (see "BT pledges increased FTTP, mobile infrastructure investments as part of new strategy"). However, that doesn't appear to have been enough to save his job in the wake of shareholder pressure.

"The Board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team," said Jan du Plessis, BT's chairman. "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."

"It's been an honor to lead BT since 2013 and serve as a member of the board for the last 10 years, said Patterson. "Throughout that time, I've been immensely proud of what we've achieved, in particular the transformation of the business in recent years with the launch of BT Sport, the purchase and integration of EE, and the agreement to create greater independence for Openreach. That, combined with the critical expansion of our superfast broadband network to 27 million customers, and our stated ambition to reach 10 million homes with ultrafast broadband by the mid-2020s have fundamentally repositioned the company."

In March of 2017, BT announced that Openreach, which is responsible for BT's access network, would become a legally separate company with its own board, while remaining within the BT Group (see "Openreach to separate from BT"). The action resulted from an agreement with Ofcom to fulfill the UK regulatory agency's desire for such an arrangement, which Ofcom believes will improve competition by speeding alternative carriers' access to unbundled fiber infrastructure. At that time Patterson stated that BT had reviewed criticism of the business and was willing to make "fundamental changes to the way Openreach will work in the future."

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