Jan du Plessis

Jan du Plessis to retire as BT Group Chairman

Du Plessis recruited BT CEO Jansen from Worldpay in 2018

Jan du Plessis has informed the BT Group Board of his intention to retire as Chairman of the Company in 2021 once a successor has been appointed. 

Jan joined BT as a Non-Executive Director in June 2017 and was appointed Chairman in November 2017. The Board will now initiate a process for the appointment of a successor led by the Senior Independent Director.

Du Plessis replaced Mike Rake as chairman of BT in November 2017 and overhauled BT’s leadership as it recovered from an accounting scandal discovered at its Italian unit. After seven months in the chairman role, he oversaw the removal of Chief Executive Officer Gavin Patterson and a few months later recruited Philip Jansen to replace him.

Jan du Plessis, 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 is a fantastic company and it is a huge privilege and responsibility to be its Chairman. But after 17 years of demanding roles as Chairman of significant FTSE companies, I know the time is now right for me to step down and focus on other interests. Until I hand over to my successor, I remain fully committed to BT and helping Philip continue to deliver for all our customers, colleagues and shareholders.”

Du Plessis was previously chairman at SABMiller Plc, where he led negotiations in the brewer’s takeover by ABInBev. He also held the role at mining giant Rio Tinto Group Plc, where he appointed a new CEO, and British American Tobacco Plc.

Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, said:

“I’d like to personally thank Jan for both his service to BT but also his commitment and support to me since I joined. His wise counsel, in particular over the last year as we have led the company through the pandemic has been hugely appreciated.”

“Jan’s focus on improving customer experiences, investing for the long-term and motivating our colleagues has been consistent throughout his time at BT and with his strong support we now have a clear strategy to deliver in the years ahead.”

BT has had a tumultuous relationship with regulators, but du Plessis said that mending it had been the biggest item of progress during his tenure. 

Iain Conn, Senior Independent Director, said:

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our enormous gratitude to Jan for his leadership and guidance. We are very sorry to know he will be leaving. He has chaired BT through a period involving important strategic decisions and considerable change and will leave behind a very strong legacy”.

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