BT Appoints Insider Gavin Patterson As CEO; Ian Livingston To Become UK Trade Minister

A changing of the guard at UK carrier BT: the company has announced that it will be appointing Gavin Patterson as its new CEO effective September, to replace Ian Livingston, who is taking up a role in the UK government as the Minister of State for Trade and Investment.

Like Livingston, this is an internal appointment, and like Livingston, Patterson is being picked from the company’s consumer-facing division, BT Retail — which is also its biggest and most visible operation, alongside a wholesale fixed-line service, business services and its Openreach broadband network.

Patterson has been with the company since 2008, and comes as Livingston has seen BT through strong performance, with stock up over 57% in the last year. In the year ended 31 March 2013, BT said that group revenue was £18,017 million, with profit before taxation of £2,501 million.

As with carriers in other parts of the world, to offset declines in traditional, fixed-line voice calls, BT has been putting a massive effort and investment into its TV operations and other new product areas.

That has included acquiring sports rights for BT Vision, as the TV service is called, buying ESPN’s channels in the UK and Ireland, as well as picking up 4G spectrum. It’s not yet clear how BT will use that spectrum — which could come in as wholesale LTE services and resold on to other providers, or for its own-branded re-entry into wireless, after spinning off its mobile operation, Cellnet, which was rebranded as O2 and is now owned by Spanish carrier Telefonica.

“We have a fitting and experienced successor in Gavin Patterson. He has a detailed knowledge of all parts of our business and a track record of success,” Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT, noted in a statement. “He was closely involved in creating our strategy and is the right person to take it forward. BT will make yet further progress under his leadership.”

Before joining BT, Patterson had been an exec at Telewest/Virgin Media — content and pay-TV experience, which may mean that BT will make even more inroads into this area in the years ahead.