BT Group has kicked off a formal search for a successor to Philip Jansen, its chief executive, as he weighs a number of job opportunities in the US.
Sky News has learnt that BT is working with the search firm Spencer Stuart on a process to identify a successor to Mr Jansen, who took on the role in 2019.
City sources said this weekend that Mr Jansen had signalled to BT’s board that he was likely to step down at some point in 2024.
An announcement about the succession process could be made within weeks and potentially as early as next week, when BT holds its annual general meeting, they added.
Mr Jansen is understood to be undecided about whether to continue his executive career or pursue chairmanship roles.
In recent days, there has been speculation that he could return to Worldpay – the payments group he ran prior to his appointment at BT – after its $18.5bn (£14.4bn) purchase by the private equity firm GTCR.
One source said Mr Jansen had also recently turned down an offer of a CEO role at a major US technology company.
Investors’ attention will turn to the likely candidates to succeed Mr Jansen, with BT’s board said to have been engaged.
A number of external figures are already said to have been approached by Spencer Stuart, while frontrunners are expected to include Marc Allera, who runs BT’s consumer business, and Alison Kirkby, the boss of Swedish telecoms group Telia Company.
Ms Kirkby is already a non-executive director on the board of BT.
Mr Jansen’s departure will come roughly five tumultuous years after he took up the post, replacing Gavin Patterson.
The BT chief is said by people close to the company to be disappointed at the performance of its shares during his tenure, with the stock closing on Friday at 122.5p, giving it a market capitalisation of just over £12bn.
There has been growing speculation about a takeover bid for BT, prompting the board – led by chairman Adam Crozier – to hire defence advisers.
Patrick Drahi, the French-Israeli billionaire, controls roughly 25% of BT, having built the stake through his vehicle Altice UK during the last two years.
The government would carefully scrutinise any foreign bid for the company, given its critical role in Britain’s national infrastructure.
Deutsche Telekom, the German telecoms giant, also holds a 12% stake in BT, and has indicated its interest in a future deal of some kind.
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Mr Jansen has engineered a reshaping of the company, announcing that its workforce would shrink by as many as 55,000 people by the end of the decade amid a boom in artificial intelligence and as its full-fibre broadband rollout comes to an end.
He has sanctioned an acceleration of its investment in high-speed broadband, setting a target of connecting 25 million homes by the end of 2026.
He has also crunched its underperforming Global and Enterprise units together to form a single division, BT Business.
Last month, Sky News revealed that Mr Jansen’s £1.1m salary would be frozen until he retired from the company.
The decision was subsequently confirmed in its annual report.
He was paid about £3m last year.
BT has been contacted for comment.