Philip Jansen has had enough of running BT after five years and will seek new challenges once his replacement is found.

Scott Bicheno

July 10, 2023

3 Min Read
BT CEO Jansen decides his work there is done

Philip Jansen (pictured) has had enough of running BT after five years and will seek new challenges once his replacement is found.

The official press release is keen to stress what an orderly and undramatic succession process this will be, but you have to wonder how much ‘push’ versus ‘jump’ is involved. BT’s share price is at almost half the level of its 5-year peak – achieved not long after Jansen’s appointment was announced but before his first day in charge. That will test the patience of any board, let alone major investors.

“Philip has done an excellent job in his time at BT and the Board is fully supportive of our long-term strategy which he and his team are pursuing,” said BT Group Chairman Adam Crozier, nonetheless. “Whilst we are still in the early years of that transformation we are on track to deliver.

“The succession process to replace Philip is something that the Board was well prepared for. 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.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last four and half years and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved to date,” insisted Jansen. “We’re investing heavily in both BT’s and the UK’s future. We’re building like fury, have now passed over 11m homes with fibre, have got 5G service to 68% of the country and our customer service is much improved.

“This is creating a much stronger BT Group which is starting to drive growth for both investors and the UK. But there’s a lot more to do and I am fully committed to driving the business forward until I hand over to my successor.”

Four and half years seems like a long time to take just to get things started and BT’s share price shows no sign of investors believing that inflection point has been reached. Left unstated among Jansen’s achievements is the decision to cull thousands of jobs, perhaps since the usual share price boost that created has since been erased. It’s also worth noting that the first rumours of Jansen’s demise came soon after reports of ill-advised comments from Jansen complicated BT’s relationship with comms regulator Ofcom.

“The CEO has endured a rollercoaster ride at BT,” said Analyst Kester Mann, of CCS Insight. “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.

“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.”

“This has been on the cards for some time,” said Analyst Paolo Pescatore, of PP Foresight. “There’s not much more left for him to do. He has helped navigate the group through a difficult period. Probably time to think about the next chapter for both him and BT. Openreach is now in a better place, consolidated the enterprise function and moving away from costly sports rights. All eyes now turn on the successor. A prime candidate is already at the business with Marc Allera who heads up the consumer segment.”

Those two analyst comments indicate there’s more than one way of summarising Jansen’s tenure at BT. Focusing on share price alone maybe unfair, since not many other major operator groups have delighted investors over that time, and perhaps Jansen’s main job was to navigate a period of transition and retrenchment. The BT board would presumably like to build on that now and candidates for the top position will need to demonstrate a clear plan for growth.

 

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About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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