BT announces new CEO and appoints former O2 boss to board

25 October 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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BT has appointed former cable TV executive Philip Jansen as its new CEO, and at the same time it has appointed the former chairman and CEO of Telefónica UK to its board.

Jansen will replace current CEO Gavin Patterson on 1 February 2019. Matthew Key, who joins the BT board immediately, left Telefónica with a reported £11 million payoff in 2014.

Jansen’s current role is co-chief executive of Worldpay, which he joined in 2013 and took through a share flotation two years later. But earlier he was managing director of the consumer division of Telewest, a UK cable TV company that later merged with rivals to form Virgin Media.

BT chairman Jan du Plessis said Jansen “is a proven leader with outstanding experience in managing large complex businesses”. He added: “Philip’s strong leadership has inspired his teams, successfully transformed businesses across multiple industries and created significant value for shareholders. His most recent success at Worldpay, a technology-led business, means he is well suited to build on the solid foundations that are in place at BT.”

BT’s major shareholders and board decided earlier this year that current CEO Gavin Patterson had the right strategy for BT but that he was the wrong person to lead it. BT has taken longer than expected to find a replacement: Jansen will join the company on 1 January and there will be a one-month overlap before Patterson goes.

Jansen said that BT “has built a leading position across fixed and mobile networks, creating an opportunity to deliver increasing benefits for our customers, the UK economy and our shareholders”.

But his experience of telecoms networks was two decades ago – which perhaps explains Key’s appointment to the BT board, also announced today.

Key was CFO of Vodafone UK before taking the same position at Telefónica’s O2 UK in 2002. He became CEO of O2 UK in 2008.

He was later chairman and CEO of both Telefónica Europe and Telefónica Digital, an attempt by the Spanish company to build an innovation hub in central London. That was not looked upon kindly by Telefónica’s Madrid-based technology team. Key departed abruptly in 2014 with a large reported golden handshake.

Since then he has kept in touch with the telecoms industry as a member of Samsung Europe’s advisory board until last year and he has also been a non-executive director of Burberry since 2013.

Du Plessis said of Key: “Matthew has hugely valuable and relevant experience from his time at O2, Telefonica and Vodafone. This, combined with his strong strategic skills and experience as a non-executive, makes him an excellent addition to the board. We are delighted he has agreed to join BT.”