BT boss Gavin Patterson stepping down to quell shareholder frustrations

Gavin Patterson has been CEO at BT for almost five years

BT said in a statement on Friday that it has already started the search for his replacement, noting that Patterson will remain in charge of the company until a successor is found.

BT chairman Jan du Plessis said that while Mr Patterson had the backing of the board, wider support was starting to wane.

"The broader reaction to our recent results announcement has. demonstrated to Gavin and me that there is a need for a change of leadership to deliver this strategy", he said.

The company said a poor reaction to its latest results, in which BT set out plans to cut 13,000 jobs, had prompted the move.

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Mr Patterson has been at BT for 14 years, 10 of those as a board member.

However, the decline in the company's shares continued, and a plan announced last month to save 1.5 billion pounds a year by 2020/21 failed to impress investors, putting Patterson under ever increasing pressure.

Patterson was also embroiled in fractious talks with Britain's telecoms regulator Ofcom about the fate of Openreach, which runs the national broadband network.

Since Patterson took over the reins in 2013, BT's share price has fallen by 41%.

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With its share price at a six-year low, the telecoms giant is looking to cut back its management positions and "consolidate in key towns" to reduce costs by £1.5 billion. Throughout that time I've been immensely proud of what we've achieved, in particular the transformation of the business in recent years with the launch of BT Sport, the purchase and integration of EE, and the agreement to create greater independence for Openreach. "It's been a disappointing time for BT and for its shareholders", said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson. "Similarly, the EE acquisition was expensive but hasn't worked out as planned".

Deutsche Telekom, BT's largest shareholder with a 12 per cent stake, has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Mr Patterson's performance over the past year, partly because of blunders like an accounting scandal in Italy, according to a person familiar with the situation. "And the pension deficit - a black hole of £11.3bn".

BT's shares opened over 2% higher on Friday morning after news of Patterson's exit broke.

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