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Gavin Patterson is out as BT CEO

10 June 2018

British telecommunications company BT Group says its CEO, Gavin Patterson, will step down this year amid shareholder discontent about the lagging share price.

Patterson's successor is yet to be appointed and BT said they were looking at internal and external candidates.

Chairman Jan du Plessis, who had backed Mr Patterson at last month's strategy update, yesterday said shareholders had convinced him the CEO's time was up, even as the board is still "fully supportive" of the business plan.

"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", he said.

Patterson received a total of 2.3 million pounds ($3.1 million) in the year to the end of March, according to the company's annual report - basic pay of 997,000 pounds plus a 1.292 million pound bonus.

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During his tenure, Patterson saw the firm through several hard spots, most recently an Italian accounting scandal and skirmishes with telecoms regulator Ofcom.

The subsequent revelation that BT paid Patterson £2.3m previous year generated further negative PR, and at the start of June, it emerged that some BT shareholders were actively mobilising against him.

BT announced a restructuring of the business where 13,000 jobs will be cut in a bid to £1.5 billion over the next three years with restructuring costs at £800 million.

At the same time, Patterson was embroiled in fractious talks with Britain's telecoms regulator Ofcom about the fate of Openreach, which runs the national broadband network.

In January last year, BT wrote down the value of its Italian unit by £530m after it said it had uncovered years of "inappropriate behaviour". The first and most important is the share price.

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

Mr Patterson became managing director of BT's consumer division in 2004.

Since taking the job back in the autumn of 2013, Patterson has been investing in building up BT's mobile and TV businesses.

A former holder of Computer Weekly's Most Influential Person in UK IT title, Patterson has been with BT for nearly 15 years - 10 of them as a board member.

"BT is a great business and, with the new management team I've recently put in place, is, I believe, very well positioned to thrive in the future", he said.

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Gavin Patterson is out as BT CEO