Livingston to Succeed Ben Verwaayen as BT CEO

Ian Livingston, who is currently chief executive of BT Retail, is to succeed Ben Verwaayen as chief executive of BT Group on June 1st 2008. Verwaayen will step down as CEO on 31 May 2008, and will leave the board on June 30.

Ben Verwaayen will leave BT after more than six years during which he has led the transformation of the company.

BT Chairman Sir Mike Rake paid tribute to him: “Ben has been an exceptional CEO whose courage and leadership has transformed BT from being a deeply troubled organisation into a thriving business with global capability and a clear strategy for the future. The board has been involved in the process of transition for many months to ensure an orderly succession. Ben has done more than anyone else to make Britain the most competitive broadband market in the world. He has been instrumental in restoring pride in BT. Everyone in the company owes him a huge debt of gratitude and wishes him well for the future.”

Ben joined BT in January 2002 from Lucent Technologies where he was Vice-Chairman of the management board. He led BT’s aggressive expansion into broadband which has given the UK international leadership in broadband availability. He initiated the rapid expansion of BT Global Services which provides networked IT services to multinational organisations. Ben helped change the regulatory landscape through the creation of Openreach giving all communication providers in the UK equal network access. He has been awarded a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by the French government for his services to global telecommunications, honoured in The Netherlands as an Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau, and recently received an honorary knighthood in the UK for his contribution to the communications industry.

Commenting on his time at BT Ben said: “I have had six exciting years and I am extremely proud of the people in BT. Without them the company’s recent success would not have been possible. I owe a particular debt of gratitude to the executive directors who have served alongside me on the Board. Francois Barrault and Hanif Lalani have made a magnificent contribution. They are outstanding leaders. Ian Livingston will lead the company from strength to strength when he takes over as CEO in June. He is a great guy with a fantastic record of business achievement.”

Ian Livingston joined BT as group finance director in 2002. He took over as chief executive of BT Retail in 2005. Under his leadership BT Retail has returned to growth and sharply increased profitability.

Sir Mike Rake said of him: “Ian was the board’s unanimous choice to succeed Ben in June. His record of achievement at BT and before that at Dixons is outstanding. He has a deep understanding of BT having served as both group finance director and CEO of BT Retail. He will continue to deliver on a proven strategy. We share a vision of the future for BT as the leading communications services company both in the UK and globally.”

Ian Livingston said: “Ben has been a tremendous CEO. He has changed BT through his passion and leadership. His informality and approachable style have won him the admiration and respect of everyone in the business. BT is a great company with a strong history and an even more exciting future. I am very proud to have been chosen as its next CEO.”

Ian Livingston’s current role will be filled by Gavin Patterson, currently group managing director of BT’s consumer division. Gavin will become CEO of BT Retail joining the BT board on June 1.