BT CEO Gavin Patterson steps down

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The UK group said in a statement on Friday that Gavin Patterson would leave his job later this year.

The process to appoint a successor is already underway with BT confident it will be in a position to announce a replacement over the coming months as it readies for a period of significant change.

Jan Du Plessis, chairman, said the board was "fully supportive" of Patterson's strategy but added that the "borader reaction" to the recent results announcement demonstrated that there is a need of leadership to deliver the strategy.

BT's Italian arm was guilty of improper accounting practices and "inappropriate behaviour" previous year, resulting in the company taking a £225m hit after paying Deutsche Telekom and Orange to avoid legal action over the issue.

Patterson said it had been "an honour" to lead BT.

Patterson's exit also follows major restructuring at BT.

In January last year, BT wrote down the value of its Italian unit by £530m after it said it had uncovered years of "inappropriate behaviour".

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Under Patterson's leadership, though, the FTSE 100 group has stumbled from one issue to another over the past 18 months or so, during which time its share price has nearly halved.

BT said last month that sales dropped 1% in the year ended March 31, while profits dropped 2%.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, said: "The expensive move into football rights was a mistake and evidence that management lacked focus under Patterson".

When you devise a strategy which has the "full support" of the board then you expect that you will be around to execute it. Gavin Patterson's departure is unusual in the sense that the board liked his plan, but didn't think he was the person to carry it out.

But the subsequent decline in the share price showed investors were not on side.

Gavin Patterson has been at BT for 13 years and spent the last decade on its board, which intends to replace him in the second half of 2018. He was appointed chief executive of the BT Group in 2013. Throughout that time I've been immensely proud of what we've achieved, in particular the transformation of the business in recent years with the launch of BT Sport, the purchase and integration of EE, and the agreement to create greater independence for Openreach.

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