British BT entrusts Crozier as chairman to drive transformation


By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) -BT named Adam Crozier as next chairman on Tuesday, bringing in one of Britain’s most experienced corporate operators to oversee the group through a key period of transformation in its 175-year business story.

Crozier, who previously brought new strategies to broadcaster ITV, Royal Mail and the Football Association, will become president-elect on November 1 and president proper a month later when Jan du Plessis retires.

He joins the company as the company embarks on a major infrastructure program, aimed at bringing fast broadband fiber to 25 million premises by the end of 2026, and as it weighs on the partnership with investors in part of the construction and in its sports television division.

He will also have to manage the new relationship with Patrick Drahi, a Franco-Israeli telecoms entrepreneur who stunned investors in June when he announced he controlled 12.1% of BT, making him the largest shareholder.

Crozier will work alongside BT CEO Philip Jansen, described by observers as a “man in a hurry”, who, having received millions of pounds in his previous job as head of Worldpay, is fighting to shake up and modernize the old monopoly telecoms.

BT was forced earlier this year to deny that Jansen had threatened to resign unless du Plessis resigned, following a media report that the CEO was frustrated with the pace of change.

A person familiar with the matter said the two discussed whether they were the best combination to bring about change on such a scale, but their relationship has always remained amicable.

BT’s senior independent director Iain Conn said Crozier was the unanimous choice of the board to take over.

“He has significant experience leading public company boards, team development and stakeholder management and brings a wealth of transformation and operating experience to large-scale leadership roles. “, did he declare.

Crozier will step down as president of online fashion retail ASOS on November 29 and non-executive director of Sony Corp. at the end of the year.

“BT is an extremely important company, with a vital role to play in building digital networks and services to support the future of the UK,” said Crozier.

BT shares, up 64% year-on-year thanks to favorable regulatory decisions and participation from Drahi, slipped 1% at the start of trading.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Michael Holden and David Holmes)

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