UK telecoms group BT says chief executive to step down

BT last month said it plans to axe thousands more jobs to slash costs

London (AFP) – BT, the British telecoms and television broadcasting company, said Friday that its chief executive Gavin Patterson would depart his role later this year, following shareholder unrest over the group’s outlook. 

“The board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team,” BT chairman Jan du Plessis said in a company statement.

He added however that “broader reaction” to recent results “demonstrated to Gavin and me that there is a need for a change of leadership to deliver this strategy”.

BT last month said it plans to axe thousands more jobs to slash costs and move out of its historic London headquarters.

BT has in recent years launched a costly push into broadcasting live Premier League football matches, hurting the group’s bottom line.

As well as launching BT Sport during his five years as chief executive, Patterson also purchased mobile operator EE from Deutsche Telekom and Orange in a £12.5-billion ($16.8-billion, 14.2-billion-euro) deal.

It meanwhile took a recent sizeable financial hit after improper accounting transactions were uncovered at its troubled Italian division.

Following Friday’s announcement, BT’s share price was down 0.44 percent at 202 pence on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index, which was down 0.8 percent overall in early deals.

“Since 2016, BT’s share price graph resembles something of a black run; pretty much always on a downward trend and with a few nasty cliffs here and there,” noted George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Shareholder confidence has followed the share price down,” he added.