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The poisoned chalice

Jan du Plessis, BT’s chairman, broke the news in June. Major shareholders had been urging him to find someone more skilled in telecoms and technology. Given the horrendously complex challenges that BT faces, Mr du Plessis had said that the role would be a “tall order” for anyone brave enough to take it on. A “genius” was needed.

The search went global. Liv Garfield, who once headed Openreach, now chief executive of Severn Trent, was mentioned. As was Olaf Swantee, who integrated Orange and T-Mobile to form EE, sold EE to BT, and left to run the Swiss telecoms company Sunrise. Then there was Ronan Dunne, former head of O2, now head of US telecoms company Verizon’s consumer arm. And Dominique Leroy, chief executive of Belgian telecoms company Proximus. All were in secure roles, with trusted teams supporting them. Why abandon those to risk their reputations by running BT? 

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