Adam Crozier to lead BT transformation as chairman

Business transformation specialist and nineties and noughties UK business golden boy to take the reins as BT chairman at the end of the year

BT’s past two sets of quarterly results have revealed the task ahead as it gets to grips with the post-Covid business world and concentrates on core fibre and 5G infrastructures. And as it embarks on the next stage of its modernisation programme, the incumbent UK telco has announced Adam Crozier as its next chairman.

Replacing current chairman Jan du Plessis when he retires, Crozier will join the BT board as an independent non-executive director and chairman designate on 1 November 2021, becoming chairman on 1 December 2021.

Currently chairman of Whitbread, Asos and Kantar Group, as well as a non-executive director of Sony Corporation, Crozier was one of the leading UK business leaders of the late nineties and into the noughties.

With significant experience of operational transformation, BT believes Crozier is the ideal candidate to chair the company as it makes its own business renewal. In particular, between 2010 and 2017 Crozier was CEO of the UK’s leading commercial broadcaster ITV, during which time he led the company away from a dependence on traditional business lines and reorganised business activities to address the new realities in broadcasting, in particular production and digital products.

Indeed, in announcing Crozier’s appointment, BT noted that under his leadership, ITV was transformed into one of the most successful and dynamic media and content companies in the world and its financial performance improved dramatically, with earnings per share increasing by over 800%.

BT added that before this time, over a seven-year period as chief executive of Royal Mail, Crozier led a modernisation programme and took the postal company from a loss-making position to profitability.

Such qualities will be essential to BT going forward. For the three months to 30 June 2021, BT reported revenue of £5.07bn, down by 3% compared with a year ago. While other business lines struggled, revenue grew in BT’s Consumer and Openreach broadband provision divisions.

Net adjusted income for the quarter was £1.87bn, up 3%. All BT units delivered growth, with the exception of the BT Global business line, and reported profit before tax was £536m, down 4% despite the higher adjusted income, primarily due to the prior year gain on disposal of domestic Spanish operations.

BT’s capital expenditure (capex) rose by 63% compared with the same quarter a year ago to £1.51bn, primarily due to investment in spectrum, in particular 5G in its EE mobile subsidiary. Capex, excluding spectrum payments, was up 9% to £1.01bn, primarily due to Openreach fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) provisioning activities, mobile network spend and non-network infrastructure.

On taking up the chairmanship of BT, Crozier will step down as chairman of Asos on 29 November and will not put himself forward for re-election at the retailer’s upcoming annual general meeting. He will also step down as a non-executive director of Sony Corporation with effect from 31 December.

Commenting on the appointment, he said: “It is an honour to join the board of BT and to succeed Jan as chair. BT is a hugely important company, with a critical role to play in building the digital networks and services to support the UK’s future. I look forward to working with the board, Philip and his executive team to create value for all our stakeholders.”

For his part, du Plessis added: “I am delighted Adam is succeeding me. Chairing the board of BT over the past four years has been a tremendous privilege. BT is a truly unique and special business, and what this company does really matters to so many people. I am immensely grateful to my fellow board members for their support and hard work during my tenure as chairman. I wish Adam every success as he joins the board at a very exciting time for the company and I wish BT the very best for the future.”

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