The chairman of BT has announced that he plans to quit the telecoms giant once a replacement has been found.
Jan du Plessis, who hired BT’s current boss, Philip Jansen, from Worldpay, said that, after 17 years as a serial non-executive across numerous listed businesses, he wants to step back to focus on other interests.
He will leave the prestigious £700,000-a-year role later this year, and a search for his successor is under way.
Prior to joining the BT board, Mr du Plessis had chaired British American Tobacco, Rio Tinto and SAB Miller and been on the boards of Marks & Spencer and Lloyds.
The 67-year-old was also finance chief of cigarette-maker Rothmans before it was bought by BAT in 1998.
During his time at BT, Mr du Plessis has helped the company establish better relations with Ofcom as decisions over the next phase of the UK’s fibre broadband rollout are made.
BT is hoping to persuade the watchdog that a £12 billion investment to offer super-fast broadband to 20 million homes is worth allowing it to make a return of between 10% and 12% on its investment.
A decision from Ofcom is due next month and Mr du Plessis’ work on soothing relations with the regulator is understood to have played a role in the tentative work.
The outgoing chairman said: “BT has made good progress over the last few years. We have a refreshed board and much-strengthened senior management team delivering on our strategy to transform the company.
“We have made big strides in enhancing customer service and have really stepped up to support the country during the pandemic.
“Above all, our relationship with Ofcom has improved significantly over the last three years and I strongly believe the board’s commitment to invest in a full fibre network is in the long-term interests of all BT’s stakeholders.”
BT’s senior non-executive director Iain Conn, a former Centrica boss, will start the search for his replacement.