The tricky task of finding a new BT chairman

·2 min read
The BT logo (PA Media)
The BT logo (PA Media)

SO BT needs a new chairman (or woman), and it is far from obvious who the candidates might be.

It’s a tricky job, perhaps unlike any other in the FTSE, given the range of requirements and just how fast that company is likely to change in the next five years.

Over that period BT is going to build a huge, integrated internet network, hopefully serving the nation for many decades to come.

If it works, if it really works, then the opportunity is to sell other services down the line. Cyber security for a start, an area where BT already has lots of people and lots of expertise.

And all manner of other entertainment and computer wizardry.

Perhaps this could be a rare occasion when the chairman should be younger than the CEO (Philip Jansen is 54).

BT is probably going to be the biggest CapEx spender in the country for the next few years, and the money needs to be spent right, overseen by someone who gets the mechanics.

So it’s a tech job. Someone said Steve Jobs, but as I understand it there might be a problem with availability.

In any case, it needs to be Steve Jobs who doesn’t scare the government or the City.

It’s hard to see who could tick every box. The government and regulators care deeply about BT – perhaps more than is always helpful.

And there are 800,000 shareholders for whom the dividend payment is probably more important than any grand ambitions.

Sir Ian Cheshire has been in the frame, as has Adam Crozier.

Crozier might work. But with all due respect to Sir Ian, if he’s a candidate, so am I.

All of which leads one to think that the present chairman might be doing a pretty decent job.

Jan Du Plessis is on the way out, supposedly after a row with Jansen.

I suspect that talk was rather overdone, and that the two men probably have quite a lot of respect for each other.

Certainly, BT looks in better shape than it has done for years. Maybe the chairman has had at least something to do with that.

Read More

BT to spend £25 billion on speedy internet, creating 7000 jobs