Telia president and CEO Allison Kirkby to take over as BT chief executive

CEO of leading Baltics and Nordics telco to take the reins at BT Group in early 2024, offering support for current business strategy and next phase of development

Just three weeks after its current CEO Philip Jansen informed the UK’s largest telco company that he intended to step down from his role, BT has announced the appointment of Telia Company president and CEO Allison Kirkby as its new chief executive, who will take up the role around the end of January 2024 at the latest.

After having succeeded Gavin Patterson in the role four-and-a-half years ago, Jansen set about restructuring BT, undertaking a cost-saving programme and focusing on fibre networks and 5G, with BT setting itself a target of passing 25 million premises with gigabit fibre networks by 2026.

In its recently announced results for the first quarter of its fiscal 2024, BT reported pro forma adjusted revenue of £5.2bn, up 4% compared with the same period at the end of its 2023 financial year. In addition, it said it had expanded its FTTP footprint to 11 million UK premises – representing 44% completion of the roll-out target – with a further 6.2 million premises where initial build was underway.

As it began conducting a formal succession process, BT stressed that it was well-prepared for replacing Jansen and expected to be able to update the market on progress in appointing a new CEO over the course of the summer.

Kirkby has been president and CEO of Swedish multinational telecommunications company and mobile network operator Telia Company since early 2020, claiming to be the country’s leading digital communications and telecommunications provider and offering services to 25 million customers across the Nordic and Baltic region.

She moved into the TMT sector in 2010, initially joining Virgin Media. She was most recently president and CEO of TDC (2018 to 2020), the largest telecommunications company in Denmark, and president and CEO of Tele2 AB (2015-2018), the largest challenger telecommunications company in Sweden and the Baltics. Earlier in her career, Kirkby held a number of financial and operational roles at Procter & Gamble (1990-2010) and qualified as a chartered management accountant in 1990 while at Guinness plc.  

Furthering her credentials for what is a pivotal role in the UK’s telecommunications industry, Kirkby has been a non-executive director at BT Group since 2019 and is also a non-executive director and member of the audit committee of Brookfield Asset Management.

“I’m incredibly honoured to have been appointed as the next chief executive of BT Group. BT is such an important company for the UK and is uniquely placed to help everyone benefit from the rapid advances in digitalisation,” Kirkby said, commenting on her appointment.

“Our products and services have never been more important to how our customers live and work, and thanks to the significant investment BT is putting into digital infrastructure and in the modernisation of its services, I see us playing an even more important role going forward. Having been a member of the BT Group board for the past four years, I’m fully supportive of our strategy and am excited about leading it into its next phase of development, as we grow to support customers, shareholders and the UK economy.”

BT Group chairman Adam Crozier added: “The board is delighted to have appointed Allison as our new chief executive. She is a proven leader, with deep sector experience and a history of having transformed businesses. I look forward to supporting her as we drive our long-term strategy to transform BT Group, ensuring it delivers for all our stakeholders.”

When his departure was announced, Jansen said: “We’ve made a lot of progress over the last four-and-a-half years, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved to date. We’re investing heavily in both BT’s and the UK’s future…This is creating a much stronger BT Group, which is starting to drive growth for both investors and the UK. But there’s a lot more to do, and I am fully committed to driving the business forward until I hand over to my successor.”

Jansen will continue to serve as chief executive until the end of January 2024 at the latest. He will be available to support the handover until the end of March 2024, at which point he intends to retire from executive life. 

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