The UK’s largest telecoms provider, BT Group, has announced a forthcoming change to the senior management.

In a statement emailed to Silicon UK, BT’s board of directors announced that “chief executive Philip Jansen has informed the Board that at an appropriate moment over the next 12 months he intends to step down from his role.”

It was back in October 2018, when Philip Jansen was confirmed as the replacement for then chief executive Gavin Patterson. Patterson had been in charge at BT since 2013, when he took over as head of the carrier from previous chief executive, Ian Livingston.

Stepping down

Jansen officially started his position as BT chief executive on 1 February 2019.

Prior to that Jansen had been a board member of BT since January 2018 and had also been co-CEO at Worldpay.

Jansen had also previously been CEO and then Chairman of Brakes Group and held a variety of senior roles in Sodexo Group.

Jansen had also been COO of MyTravel PLC and MD of Telewest Communications Plc’s consumer division. He had started his career with Procter and Gamble.

But now Jansen has told BT’s board of directors of his intention to step down, after leading the carrier through a tough couple of years that included the FTTP fibre rollout, the Coronavirus pandemic (during which Jansen himself caught Covid-19), and making some tough calls over BT’s workforce reduction, by cutting 42 percent (55,000 roles) from its workforce by 2030.

“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last four and half years and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved to date,” said Jansen. “We’re investing heavily in both BT’s and the UK’s future. We’re building like fury, have now passed over 11m homes with fibre, have got 5G service to 68 percent of the country and our customer service is much improved.”

“This is creating a much stronger BT Group which is starting to drive growth for both investors and the UK,” said Jansen. “But there’s a lot more to do and I am fully committed to driving the business forward until I hand over to my successor.”

Replacement search

BT said that in preparation for Jansen stepping down, its Nominations Committee of the Board has been conducting a formal succession process.

“Philip has done an excellent job in his time at BT and the Board is fully supportive of our long-term strategy which he and his team are pursuing,” said Adam Crozier, BT Group Chairman.

“Whilst we are still in the early years of that transformation we are on track to deliver,” said Crozier. “The succession process to replace Philip is something that the Board was well prepared for.”

“All appropriate candidates are being considered and we expect to be able to update the market on progress over the course of the summer,” said Crozier. “In the meantime, it is business as usual, and we are focused on executing our plans and delivering for all our stakeholders.”

Takeover rumours

Jansen’s confirmation that he will be stepping down comes amid market rumours of a possible takeover of the UK carrier by a foreign competitor.

Deutsche Telekom for example is a major shareholder in BT, with a 12 percent stake, and according to some media reports may be preparing an offer for BT.

But it should also be remembered that Patrick Drahi – a French-Israeli telecoms billionaire, who is also the founder and head of Altice Europe, the second largest telecoms firm in France, may also be in the hunt after he acquired a 12.1 percent stake in BT in June 2021, via his subsidiary Altice UK.

Drahi then increased this stake to 18 percent in December 2021, and then raised it again to 24.5 percent in May 2023.

The UK government has previously warned all parties involved that it was monitoring the situation. It stated it would intervene if necessary to protect BT, which has built most of the UK’s critical fibre network.

In May 2022 the UK government officially confirmed it was conducting a full national security assessment of Altice’s stake increase in BT.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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