BT chief executive to step down this year

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The chief executive of BT will step down later this year after five years in the post.

BT Chairman Jan du Plessis said the Board was fully supportive of the recent strategy laid by out by Patterson, but said the reaction to recent announcements showed there was need for a change in leadership to deliver this strategy.

In a surprise move the company said that it had already started the process of looking for his successor, and expected to appoint a new chief executive in the second half of the year.

BT's Italian arm was guilty of improper accounting practices and "inappropriate behaviour" previous year, resulting in the company taking a £225m hit after paying Deutsche Telekom and Orange to avoid legal action over the issue.

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As part of a three-year plan aimed at reversing the firm's downward spiral and to save 1.5 billion pounds, BT planned cut 13,000 managerial and administrative jobs.

Despite this, Mr Patterson managed to head off a threat to split BT's Openreach broadband division into a separate company.

The BT board says it is convinced this is still the right direction to take, but it wants someone else to take charge.

Patterson, who has led BT for nearly five years, announced 13,000 job cuts last month in an attempt to address multiple pressures on the business. 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.

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But the admission that fraud had left a 530-million pound black hole in its Italian business, combined with sharp slowdown in demand from public sector and corporate customers, forced the 50-year-old executive to cut profit targets in 2017.

The bad news continued when Ofcom fined BT a record 42 million pounds for service failures.

Analysts at UBS said the fact that the board supported the strategy suggested no significant strategic changes.

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