Succession planning is already underway, with Jansen expected to step down from the role of CEO in the next 12 months

Today, BT has confirmed media reports from the past weekend, announcing that they are currently preparing for Group CEO Philip Jansen to leave the role over the next year.

According to BT, planning to replace Jansen is already underway, with candidates already being considered for the position.

“The succession process to replace Philip is something that the Board was well prepared for,” said BT Group’s Chairman, Adam Crozier. “All appropriate candidates are being considered and we expect to be able to update the market on progress over the course of the summer. In the meantime, it is business as usual, and we are focused on executing our plans and delivering for all our stakeholders.”

The news should come as little surprise to those following BT’s activities in recent months, with reports suggesting that BT has been mulling the potential replacements for Jansen since at least March this year.

Jansen’s four-year tenure with BT has been turbulent to say the least. He joined the company in 2019, replacing previous CEO Gavin Peterson, at a time when the company was already attempting significant cost-saving measures to improve its performance. Since then, Jansen has expanded these plans significantly, now seeking to generate £3 billion in savings by 2025 through a variety of measures, including accelerated digitalisation and job cuts.

Indeed, the company said earlier this year it will aim to cut around 55,000 jobs – roughly 40% of its total workforce – by 2030, suggesting the business would increasingly simplify its structure and adopt new streamlining technologies, such as AI. Just last week, the company said it was restructuring its workforce of almost 3,000 people at its Adastral Park site in Ipswich, though insists that this is not part of its wider job cutting operation.

But despite these efforts to increase efficiency, expensive infrastructure rollouts with low returns, coupled with a punishing global economic climate, have seen BT’s share price has fallen by around 45% under Jansen’s tenure so far.

“Mr Jansen had been looking on increasingly shaky ground at BT. The company’s shares have almost halved since he took over in early 2019, while recent inflammatory comments about the role of fibre altnets drew concern from Ofcom,” commented Kester Mann, Director of Consumer and Connectivity at CCS Insights, referencing Jansen’s comments that the UK broadband race would “end in tears” for BT’s competitors.

BT’s depressed share price has attracted opportunistic investment from major players outside of the UK in recent years.

Over the past year, Altice UK, backed by French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, has gradually increased its stake in the operator to 24.5%, though he continues to deny that his company is is interested in staging a full takeover of the UK operator. Meanwhile, recent rumours suggest that BT could soon face a takeover attempt from Deutsche Telekom, which currently owns a 12% stake in BT.

All told, BT appears quite vulnerable right now, leaving Jansen’s replacement with numerous challenges going forward.

“The CEO has endured 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, summing up Jansen’s time as CEO.

As to who will succeed Jansen in the CEO role, speculation is rife. While no clear frontrunner has been suggested, sources suggest that both Mark Allera, CEO of EE and BT’s consumer business, and Allison Kirkby, president and CEO of Telia, have both been suggested as possible candidates.

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