The ex-ITV executive will take over from Jan du Plessis, who resigned at short notice in March
Back in March, BT’s chairman Jan du Plessis, announced his retirement, suggesting the time was right for him to “step down and focus on other interests”.
Now, almost six months later, a successor has finally been found in the chairman of online fashion giant Asos, Adam Crozier, who is expected to resign from his current post and make the jump to the telecoms industry.
According to sources, Crozier was selected from three potential candidates.
Crozier, who was also a former ITV and Football Association chief executive, joins the business at an exciting time, with BT currently undertaking a £15 billion upgrade of its broadband network to full fibre.
The role of chairperson itself, however, has been tumultuous in the last few years. du Plessis took over the position in 2017, at a time when BT’s cash flow was concerning, as was its strained relationship with the UK regulator Ofcom. Couple this with reverberations from the scandals surrounding BT’s Italian units and du Plessis certainly had his work cut out for him.
In his four-year tenure, he managed to somewhat steady the ship, thawing the icy relationship with Ofcom and beginning major network investments. However, the company’s share prices continued to sink during this period, resulting in major cost cutting efforts at a time when the operator needed all the capital it could muster.
With drastic measures needed to keep the company moving forward, CEO Philip Jansen finally issued an ‘it’s him or me’ ultimatum to the board, resulting in du Plessis’ resignation.
But while BT’s position has since improved, largely through favourable regulatory rulings by Ofcom, there will be new challenges facing Crozier as he steps into the role. Perhaps foremost among these is billionaire Patrick Drahi taking a £2 billion (12.1%) stake
in the business, with rumours suggesting that the owner of Altice could seek to convince BT to sell a stake in Openreach, or even spin off the business.
These concerns have since been downplayed, but the investor’s presence will surely present a change of dynamics for BT, something that Crozier will be sure to watch closely in the coming months.
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