BT CEO Philip Jansen is to step down within the next 12 months after being in the role since February 2019. No details on why Jansen, who has held the post since February 2019, is leaving, but his replacement will have to tackle a falling share price which has already dropped 50% in five years. This plummeting value has left Jansen on “increasingly shaky ground”, industry experts say.
In a statement, BT says work has started on “succession planning” and it is looking at “all suitable candidates” to replace Jansen. BT Group chairman Adam Crozier said the board was “well-prepared” for the process of replacing the CEO and would be looking to continue the long-term strategy set out by Jansen during his tenure.
“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.”
When Jansen took over the former national telecom company in 2019 the share price was 230p but has since fallen to 122p. During his tenure, work has continued on rolling out fibre-to-the-premises lines across the UK. He has also reduced BT’s involvement in the pay TV market, selling its BT Sport network to Warner Bros Discovery.
Jansen also announced plans to almost halve the BT workforce by the end of the decade, cutting 55,000 of the 135,000 roles. This is something that will be left up to the new CEO, who will also have to tackle the UK ban on Chinese supplier Huawei and how to remove the technology from the BT network.
BT CEO: potential replacements for Philip Jansen
The outgoing CEO said in a statement: “We’re building like fury, have now passed over 11 million homes with fibre, have got 5G service to 68% 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. 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.”
News on the successor search is expected in the summer, with the new CEO in place within the next 12 months. According to Bloomberg, BT consumer chief Marc Allera is in the running to take on the top job.
Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight said Jansen has had something of a rollercoaster ride at BT. “He presided over the operator’s impressive response to the pandemic; embarked on a massive cost-saving drive; oversaw a major acceleration in the deployment of full-fibre; witnessed Patrick Drahi take a near-25% stake in the company; and watched thousands of staff strike over pay,” said Mann.
“Confirmation of the new CEO is expected within weeks and while many names will inevitably be linked to the role, there appears no obvious initial candidate to take it on. BT will likely cast its net wide, both internally, elsewhere within the telco sector, and potentially in a different industry altogether.”
Telecom analyst Paolo Pescatore from PP Foresight told Tech Monitor the move “has been on the cards for some time”, explaining: “There’s not much more left for him to do. He has helped navigate the group through a difficult period. It’s probably time to think about the next chapter for both him and BT.”
Pescatore believes the company’s infrastructure arm, Openreach, is “now in a better place” than it was when Jansen took over, having “consolidated the enterprise function and moved away from costly sports rights”. He adds: “All eyes now turn on the successor. A prime candidate is already at the business with Marc Allera.”