Light Reading

Verwaayen Set to Leave BT

Michelle Donegan
News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
4/8/2008
50%
50%

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s straight-talking, media-friendly chief executive Ben Verwaayen says he will leave BT at the end of May after leading the British carrier for more than six years. (See BT's Verwaayen Steps Down.)

Verywaayen will step down as CEO at the end of May and will leave the board of directors at the end of June. He'll be replaced by BT Retail's chief executive Ian Livingston. (See BT Snares Lucent Exec, BT CEO Is Knighted , and Knight Time for BT.)

"He feels he's had a good run... and now it's time to let someone else have a go," says a BT spokesman. "It's nothing more dramatic than that."

The spokesman says Verwaayen made his decision recently and that he is not leaving BT for another position elsewhere. The spokesman said Verwaayen's decision was not forced by BT's board. Verwaayen has a 12-month rolling contract, which he has been on since he joined BT in January 2002, but apparently a contract renewal was not the issue; the BT chief has just decided to go.

Verwaayen's successor Livingston certainly has a tough act to follow. To say that Verwaayen transformed BT is putting it mildly. He has taken a staid, old British incumbent and made it a player in next-generation networking.

"Verwaayen sorted out the mess that was BT in 2002... It was a big job to pull BT back from the abyss," says Mike Cansfield, telecoms strategy practice leader at Ovum Ltd. "Also, the rapprochement and constructive dialogue with the regulator was a huge achievement."

Verwaayen navigated BT through a tense government investigation into whether the incumbent should be broken up. In the end, BT worked with regulator Ofcom and split out its access network business on its own terms with the creation of Openreach . (See BT Let Off the Hook, Government Report Cheers BT, BT Opens Up Access.)

His legacy in technology terms will be the massive and groundbreaking 21CN project -- a converged, all-IP network that BT is expected to migrate to some time in 2011. (See BT Moves Ahead With Mega Project and BT Inches Toward Telco 2.0.)

The 21CN has encountered some setbacks recently, and the timeline for the 21CN completion has slipped. Light Reading has reported that the operator is dealing with delays in the delivery of multiservice access equipment and problems with the new network's voice service related-elements in the 21CN Intelligence Node. (See BT: 21CN Slips, IPTV Nears, BT Aims to Finish 21CN in Late 2011, Upheaval at BT's 21CN?, and Green Leaves BT.)

"BT has been very quiet about 21CN -- strangely so," says Cansfield. "BT needs to be clear about what it's doing with 21CN."

Heavy Reading's chief analyst Graham Finnie says that Verwaayen has done an excellent job of marketing BT to the world through the high-profile 21CN project and the separation of Openreach. But the operator hasn't really done any better than other incumbent carriers that face the same challenge of being "reliant on revenues from saturated or maturing commodity products."

And in some cases BT lags other incumbents in technology innovation.

"BT has been slower than other telcos in some respects, specifically in launching content/entertainment services and in committing to deep fiber or FTTH strategies," says Finnie. "They have built a large global services business but it is barely profitable. The most profitable business is the wholesale business, which is in decline."

So running BT, prestigious as it is, won't be an easy job for Livingston. "Livingston will face at least as many challenges as Verwaayen as BT commits fully to NGN and tries to open up its platforms to third parties," says Finnie. "BT has a lower market share in broadband than most incumbents, and it is seeing revenue decline in its wholesale business. Revenues are flat overall. There will be plenty to do."

At BT Retail, Livingston has a good track record since he became CEO in 2005. "It's growing as a business and it's more profitable than it has been in years," says Ovum's Cansfield.

Those skills will be most welcome at BT Group, which faces the challenge of how to grow its top-line revenues.

Dresdner Kleinwort analyst Lawrence Sugarman welcomed the management change.

"Ian should bring a more direct and focused style in comparison to Ben's more visionary one," writes Sugarman in a research note. "In the current environment this change in style should be positive."

Livingston will be replaced by Gavin Patterson, who is currently group managing director of BT's consumer division. Meanwhile, Verwaayen will deliver BT's full-year results on May 15 and focus on the handover to Livingston.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
bollocks187
50%
50%
bollocks187,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:43:29 PM
re: Verwaayen Set to Leave BT
It is about time this guy moved on. Prediction CTO is going to go soon.

21st will be a disaster and a new RFP will be on the streeet in 9 months for 21.5 - lol

BT is still not a player.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (6) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (0) comments


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
LRTV Documentaries
OPNFV Director Opens Up on Women in Tech

6|25|15   |   3:25   |   (0) comments


Heather Kirksey, the director of the OPNFV, gets real about the gender disparity in open source and standards and discusses how we can change both the conversation and the gender dynamics.
LRTV Custom TV
Symantec's Service Provider Security Strategy

6|24|15   |   7:06   |   (0) comments


Didi Dayton explores Symantec's emerging enterprise security strategies for service providers. Highlights include 'killing the password,' self-defense, advanced analytics and adaptive response in a service provider architecture.
Between the CEOs
Debating Network Evolution With Cisco's Cedrik Neike

6|23|15   |   12:54   |   (2) comments


Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
LRTV Documentaries
Vodafone: What's Good for Moms Is Good for Business

6|23|15   |   3:04   |   (3) comments


Megan Doberneck, the general counsel for Vodafone Americas, discusses her company's progressive maternity policy, explains why promoting women in tech is good business and offers some some good advice for any women in the industry.
LRTV Interviews
NFV: Ready for Prime Time

6|23|15   |   05:09   |   (1) comment


At BTE 2015, Vip mobile CTO Dejan Kastelic talks about how NFV is ready for the real world and how Telekom Austria is introducing centralized resources for its group operations.
LRTV Documentaries
Tykes Talk Tech

6|22|15   |   02:30   |   (9) comments


What does optical fiber look like? When will 5G arrive? What's the WiFi password at Ikea? Light Reading sat down with three 8-year-olds to answer some of the communications industry's most burning questions...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners With TDC for World's First Early DOCSIS 3.1 Field Test

6|22|15   |   3:06   |   (0) comments


In a move to enhance user experience, Denmark's TDC aims to become an early adopter of DOCSIS 3.1. In partnership with Huawei, TDC recently ran the world's first field tests on its coax network that reached speeds nearing 1 Gbit/s.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Staying Productive With My Office-in-a-Bag
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 6/25/2015
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
What's in Your Office-in-a-Bag?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 6/26/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones