Britain’s BT said on Monday it had started the hunt for a new chief executive after Philip Jansen told the board he planned to step down at “an appropriate moment” within the next year.

Jansen has steered the country’s biggest telecoms and broadband provider through a crucial period in its history, agreeing the funding for a national fibre network rollout and as billionaire investor Patrick Drahi took a 24.5% stake in the company.

The Guardian UK reports that, the FTSE 100 company has hired headhunting firm Spencer Stuart to look for a new chief executive to take over from Jansen.

It comes after Jansen in May revealed plans to cut as many as 55,000 jobs across the company by 2030, citing the need for a leaner business as well as the impact of artificial intelligence (AI).

Under that plan, the company, which owns the EE mobile network and a large broadband internet network, would cut staff numbers from 130,000 globally to 75,000-90,000 between 2028 and 2030.

BT could announce a succession plan as soon as its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, according to Sky. Jansen has reportedly indicated to BT’s board, chaired by former ITV boss Adam Crozier, that he may consider leaving in 2024.

A BT Group spokesperson said: “As normal course of business the BT board undertakes regular succession planning to ensure it is preparing appropriately for the future.”

Jansen, who previously led payments company Worldpay, has led BT since 2019 after taking over from Gavin Patterson, who left after failing to win round investors to his own turnaround plan.
The drop in market value has made BT the subject of takeover speculation, in particular given billionaire Patrick Drahi has built a near 25% stake in the company, making him the largest shareholder. The second-largest shareholder is Deutsche Telekom, with a £1.4bn stake – down from nearly £4bn in value when the German group invested in 2015.

Drahi, the owner of telecoms group Altice, has previously insisted he did not intend to make a bid for the company. Any attempted takeover would probably draw scrutiny from UK regulators, given BT’s significant role in the UK’s telecoms network infrastructure.

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Constance Johnson E

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