Allison Kirkby Named New Chief Operative at BT

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Allison Kirkby, currently the President and CEO of Swedish telco Telia, is set to become the new CEO of BT Group in the UK from around January 2024. This decision comes following the departure announcement of the current BT boss, Philip Jansen.

Kirkby has a remarkable background in the telecommunications sector. She entered the industry in 2010, initially joining Virgin Media, and then later serving as President and CEO of TDC (2018-2020) and Tele2 AB (2015-2018). Before venturing into telecoms, she held various financial and operational positions at Procter & Gamble, and in 1990, she qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant while at Guinness.

In response to her appointment, Kirkby expressed her honor and excitement, stating, “I’m incredibly honored to have been appointed as the next Chief Executive of BT Group. BT is such an important company for the UK, and our many customers both in the UK and internationally, and is uniquely placed to help everyone benefit from the rapid advances in digitalization. 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 modernization 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.”

Current CEO Philip Jansen will continue to serve in his position until the end of January 2024, after which he will hand over the reins. He will be available for the handover process until the end of March 2024 before retiring from executive life.

Regarding her compensation for the new role, Kirkby’s package will include a salary of £1,100,000 per annum, a cash allowance equivalent to 10% of her salary instead of a pension, and an on-target annual bonus of 120% of her salary (with a maximum of 200%) based on performance.

Adam Crozier, BT Group Chairman, expressed delight in Kirkby’s appointment, praising her leadership skills, sector experience, and track record of transforming businesses. He stated, “I look forward to supporting her as we drive our long-term strategy to transform BT Group, ensuring it delivers for all our stakeholders. Philip continues to lead the business very effectively, as can be seen in the good progress shown at our most recent financial results. Given Allison is already on the Board, we are confident we will have an orderly leadership transition and handover of responsibilities.”

BT announced Jansen’s departure earlier in the month. The company has faced challenges, with its share price currently at nearly half the level of its 5-year peak achieved not long after Jansen’s appointment. Long-running strikes were finally settled in November of the previous year, followed by the announcement of plans to shed over 40% of staff in a transformation effort in May of this year. Additionally, BT attracted scrutiny from Ofcom regarding Openreach’s position in the fiber market, possibly due in part to an interview Jansen gave to the FT with the headline ‘BT chief warns Openreach fiber push will ‘end in tears’ for rivals.’

Nevertheless, BT’s most recent financials showed some positive signs. Revenue at BT Consumer rose 3% compared to the previous year, reaching £2.42 billion. BT Business also experienced sales growth of 3%, amounting to £2.03 billion, and Openreach’s revenue climbed 8% to £1.53 billion compared to last year.

As Kirkby takes over, there will undoubtedly be challenges to address, but her substantial salary package, as detailed in the announcement, should offer some compensation for the responsibility ahead.

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