BT in need of boss with the Midas touch as Jansen confirms departure  

BT is on the hunt for a CEO as speculation mounts over a possible takeover bid from a German rival.

The telecom giant’s boss, Philip Jansen, is leaving in the next 12 months after a turbulent four and a half years at the helm.

The company is considering “all suitable candidates” and expects to share an update sometime in the summer, chairman Adam Crozier said.

Marc Allera, BT’s head of consumer affairs, and Olaf Swantee, former head of mobile firm EE, are tipped to be among the front runners.

The confirmation of Jansen’s departure comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed that the 56-year-old was ‘desperate to leave the FTSE 100 company’.

Stepping down: BT said CEO Philip Jansen (pictured) will leave the company in the next 12 months after a turbulent four-and-a-half years at the helm

A source claimed that Jansen believes he did everything he could with the company and to shift the stock price. Since he joined BT in February 2019, the company’s share price has fallen by 46 per cent.

Jansen said: ‘There is still much more to do and I am fully committed to moving the company forward until I hand it over to my successor’.

The shake-up comes amid renewed rumors of a possible takeover bid from Deutsche Telekom, the second-largest shareholder.

The German telecommunications company, which has built up a 12 percent stake, is said to be plotting a buyout while BT shares remain low.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hottges has said buying a stake in BT was the ‘biggest mistake’ he ever made after its value plummeted.

“A time will come when we do a deal,” he said earlier this year, without commenting on whether this meant a takeover.

Reports suggest BT has intensified talks with its advisers in hopes of fending off unwanted approaches. BT owns EE and Openreach, which maintains telephone cables.

There are also concerns about the rising stake of French billionaire Patrick Drahi, who has built up a nearly 25 per cent stake in BT through his telecoms group Altice. Drahi also owns the Sotheby’s auction house.

Altice was ‘enlisted’ by the government last year to investigate whether its stake in BT posed a threat to national security. But the ministers later concluded that intervention was not necessary.

Matt Britzman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said any bid is likely to be closely scrutinized by regulators given BT’s key role in the UK’s fiber and 5G infrastructure.

Report: from The Mail on Sunday, July 9

Report: from The Mail on Sunday, July 9

The company is the UK’s largest provider of fixed and broadband services – an accolade any new boss should try to hold onto.

Allera, the head of BT’s consumer division, has been widely tipped as the frontrunner to replace Jansen.

Swantee, the former boss of EE, and telecom bigguns Ronan Dunne – former president of Verizon Wireless – and Vodafone board member Stephen Carter have also seen their names get into the mix.

Whoever takes over inherits an incomplete turnaround plan.

The £12 billion company is aiming to cut between 40,000 and 55,000 jobs from its 130,000-strong workforce by the end of the decade in a wide-ranging effort to cut costs.

Under Jansen it removed flagship products, including selling part of BT Sport to Warner Bros Discovery for £600m, and merging two of its largest units, the Global and Enterprise arms.

While Jansen has set its sights on rapidly expanding its fiber internet offering in the UK, this investment has proven increasingly costly in an era of high interest rates and labor costs.

And his strategy hasn’t always proved popular.

1689051636 724 BT in need of boss with the Midas touch as

Jansen came under fire last summer during strikes by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), along with former Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson.

Nearly 40,000 Openreach employees and call center employees were on the picket line over pay.

Although he eventually reached a pay deal with the union in November, they have criticized BT’s plans whereby 10,000 jobs could be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Jansen is also said to have had a turbulent time in BT’s boardroom. He reportedly clashed with former chairman Jan du Plessis, although the company denied this. In 2021, former ITV chief executive Crozier replaced Du Plessis, who had hired Jansen from payments group Worldpay.

Russ Mould, director of investment at AJ Bell, said: ‘Philip Jansen had a huge list of problems to solve from the moment he came in as BT’s new boss in February 2019.

His decisions made sense. Cut more of the fat out of the business, sharpen its focus on providing faster broadband to households across the country and find alternatives to non-core businesses, such as putting the sports broadcasting business into a joint venture.

Unfortunately, Jansen will not be remembered as the person who brought BT back to life. It’s still the slow, creaking juggernaut it was before he joined.’

He added: ‘To retire with just four years running one of Britain’s best-known companies would suggest that Jansen has had enough of the challenges BT brings.

There is speculation that he had already been offered a job as CEO of an American technology company and that he might want to run Worldpay again.

“Most CEOs want to grow the business they run, but reviving BT has got to be one of the least glamorous jobs out there.

Jansen might think that his skills could be put to better use at a more innovative company.’

Analysts at Deutsche Bank said, “We can’t blame Jansen’s efforts to modernize the company, although his approach was not frictionless.” The bank acknowledged the “difficult hand” it had been dealt and supported growth potential.

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