BT dials up Worldpay's Jansen in hunt for CEO

By Mark Kleinman, City editor
BT Group, Britain's biggest telecoms company, is in advanced talks to appoint Philip Jansen, the joint boss of payments technology operator Worldpay, as its next chief executive.
Sky News can reveal that BT, which said in June that Gavin Patterson would step down later this year, has identified Mr Jansen as its preferred candidate for the post.
Sources said this weekend that Mr Jansen, whose CV includes a stint as the managing director of Telewest Communications, had not yet formally agreed to accept the role but suggested that he was expected to do so."It's his job to turn down," said one person close to the search process, which is being run by MWM Consulting, the boardroom headhunter.If Mr Jansen does take the post, an announcement is expected from BT's board within the next month, according to an insider.Should the appointment fall through, other remaining candidates for one of the top jobs in corporate Britain are said to include Olaf Swantee, the former head of BT's mobile communications arm, EE.Dominique Leroy, the chief executive of Belgian telecoms group Proximus, is also said to have been considered, while Lord Carter, the former NTL chief, is understood to have said that he was keen to remain at the helm of Informa, the exhibitions operator.The new BT chairman, Jan du Plessis, has indicated to colleagues that he did not want a seasoned telecoms executive to replace Mr Patterson."He wants someone to look at the business with a fresh pair of eyes," said one.Nevertheless, Mr Jansen, who has worked in several industries, would bring to BT a deep understanding of the shifts being wrought by rapid technological change on communications and IT-related industries.BT faces a number of stiff challenges during the next three years, including implementing 13,000 job cuts announced by Mr Patterson shortly before his exit was disclosed by the company.It is also wrestling with the Government and Ofcom, the industry regulator, over a multibillion pound programme to upgrade Britain's digital infrastructure.In addition, it has one of the UK's largest corporate pension deficits to address, part of the legacy of its former status as a state-owned monopoly.Some BT shareholders were reported recently to be keen for Mr Patterson's successor to examine a break-up of the business that would involve spinning off Openreach, its broadband unit which has adopted an independent board and governance structure in the last 18 months.Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, competes with BT in areas including sports rights, broadband, mobile and home communications.Mr Jansen is well-regarded by City institutions, most recently for the job he did steering Worldpay onto the stock market and then growing its earnings to the point that it agreed a €22bn merger with US rival Vantiv.
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