& cplSiteName &

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.
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
The Real-World View of Service Provider Innovation
Executives from Deutsch Telekom, Facebook, AT&T, Vodafone, and Masergy share insights from their company’s major transformation efforts and updates on key issues including open source, managed cloud connections and 5G.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
UBBS 2016 Highlights

5|12|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of Huawei's UBBS event in Hong Kong.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
WiCipedia: Short Skirts & Back-Up Plans
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 5/20/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Google Doubles Down on Machine Learning, AI
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/19/2016
Eurobites: Be More European, EU Tells Streaming Services
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 5/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.