BT shareholders call for Openreach split - Mobile World Live

BT shareholders call for Openreach split

20 AUG 2018

BT shareholders called on the company to use the appointment of a new CEO as an opportunity to initiate a radical overhaul of the business, including separating out its Openreach infrastructure division.

Financial Times (FT) reported some investors mooted the Openreach move as a way for Gavin Patterson’s successor to create value in the business. BT is currently searching for a replacement CEO after announcing in June Patterson was due to step down.

BT chairman Jan du Plessis said he expects a new CEO to be in place by the end of the year: reports last week stated the company had approached ex-Ofcom boss Stephen Carter, with BT Consumer boss Marc Allera and Sunrise CEO Olaf Swantee also among the names linked to the job.

Some investors are cranking up the pressure for the new boss to implement radical changes, FT stated. One top-ten shareholder told the newspaper that with a relatively new chairman (du Plessis was appointed in 2017) and an incoming CEO, it would be appropriate to consider a restructure of the business, in particular a split of Openreach, as part of efforts “to add value”.

Overhaul plan
Before his departure was announced, Patterson unveiled a plan to cut 13,000 jobs over three years and slash £1.5 billion from annual costs as part of attempts to refocus the business and improve its financial performance, which has dipped over the last two years.

FT said du Plessis already confirmed Patterson’s plan must be upheld by the incoming boss, as shareholders have backed the strategy.

In 2017, BT agreed to measures set by Ofcom to legally separate Openreach from its service provider business, following pressure from the UK regulator and rivals in the broadband market which called for the business to be broken up.

BT has, however, fought hard to maintain ownership of the network and keep Openreach inside its business.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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