BT boss Gavin Patterson (pictured at a Californian conference) was sacked after investors were openly questioning whether he was the right man to lead the company’s overhaul
BT’s chief executive was sacked today after complaints about poor customer service from cut-price foreign call centres and the billions he spent on Premier League football.
Gavin Patterson, who earned £2.3million last year, will go later this year weeks after he also announced 13,000 job cuts and the closure of its London HQ.
Investors were worried he was not the right man to lead the company’s overhaul and raised doubts about billions he spent on sports rights including Premier League and Champions League games.
BT’s shares have been trading at a six-year low and the outgoing boss has been in charge for almost five of those years – but they jumped up 2.4 per cent
Last month Mr Patterson’s business announced the decision to ensure all UK customer services calls in Newcastle and Plymouth by 2020.
BT had moved many call handlers to India, the Philippines and India but customers were left furious by poor call handling and language problems.
Shareholders said this week that they had ‘lost faith’ in Mr Patterson and said his huge investment in BT Sport was an example of when he had ‘backed some unusual horses in the past couple of years.
Investors also said BT now had a strained relationship with regulators and criticised the handling of an accounting scandal in Italy.
Mr Patterson, pictured after abseiling down the BT Tower, had been hailed a moderniser for BT but shareholders have voiced concerns about results
The football loving boss brought Premier League and Champions League football to BT but it has cost them billions
BT’s consumer business chief Marc Allera, who worked for mobile giant EE, is seen as a likely successor.
Last month he said they must make sure customer service must be ‘the first suitcase in the car’ for the company.
He also suggested they had lost touch and must bring back BT shops on the high street to sell mobiles, TV packages and broadband.
Investors also cited BT’s strained relationship with regulators and its handling of an accounting scandal in Italy in criticisms of Mr Patterson’s leadership.
Mr Patterson said in his leaving statement he was proud on launching BT Sport and its coverage
He said today: ‘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.
‘BT is a great business and with the new management team I’ve recently put in place is, I believe, very well-positioned to thrive in the future.’
Concerns about his management emerged in meetings between top 20 shareholders and chairman Jan du Plessis, who has now confirmed his departure.
He did not say the CEOwas sacked but cited a ‘need for change’ at the top.
Mr du Plessis said the ‘reaction’ to BT’s latest results signalled the need for a change at the top.
He said: ‘The board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team.
‘The broader reaction to our recent results announcement has, though, demonstrated to Gavin and me that there is a need for a change of leadership to deliver this strategy.
‘To that end, a number of concrete initiatives have already been launched and Gavin’s commitment to continue to lead the business during this transition phase will provide invaluable continuity.
‘While BT is a very demanding business, with multiple stakeholders, we do have significant opportunities ahead of us. I am confident that, for the remainder of his term, Gavin and his senior management team will continue to display the energy required to deal with every dimension of the task at hand.’
Shareholders are said to be frustrated with the company’s stock market performance, with shares more than halving since 2015.
One top 20 investor told the FT this week that patience was wearing thin and Patterson, who became chief executive in 2013, was on his last chance.
The investor said: ‘I don’t have much faith in Gavin. Since he took over, it has not been a happy time for shareholders.
‘I am not sure he is the right man for the job.’
Another said shareholders had been demoralised by a string of gloomy results, with a third adding: ‘He has backed some unusual horses over the last couple of the years.
‘There have been a number of mistakes along the way.’