BT is in advanced talks with Philip Jansen, the co-chief executive of Worldpay, to take over as chief executive of the company.
Mr Jansen said last week that he would leave Worldpay, which has merged with US rival Vantiv, by the end of the year. Stumbling blocks remain in appointing him to the BT role including his share options at Worldpay according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The news of BT’s interest in Mr Jansen was first reported by Sky News.
The company has been searching for a new chief executive since June when it announced that Gavin Patterson would leave the role by the end of the year.
Jan du Plessis, who joined BT as chairman last year and initially supported Mr Patterson in his attempt to restructure the business, has led the process and repeatedly said he wanted someone with a telecoms and technology background due to the complexity of the job. According to people familiar with the situation, Mr Jansen is the preferred candidate identified by Mr du Plessis and an appointment could be made within weeks.
BT is partway through a major overhaul that will result in 13,000 jobs being cut and a reorganisation of its business units. The company’s share price has been under significant pressure since 2016 after multiple profit warnings and increasing tension with Ofcom, the regulator.
Mr Jansen was group marketing director of Telewest, the cable company that was rolled up into Virgin Media, in 1999 when he hired Mr Patterson to lead the marketing effort for its broadband service. The two men also worked together at Procter & Gamble.
BT has opted to bring in the fresh eyes of an outsider to address the problems it faces, according to people familiar with the situation.
Mr Jansen has run Worldpay for five years, building it up into one of the world’s leading payment processors and overseeing an initial public offering in 2015 and its £9.3bn sale to its US rival Vantiv last year.
The 51-year-old caught the eye of US private equity groups Bain Capital and Advent International when working as head of Europe at catering group Sodexho and they hired him in 2010 to run Brake Bros, the UK food delivery company they owned.
Three years later, Mr Jansen moved to Worldpay, which had been acquired from Royal Bank of Scotland by Bain and Advent in a £2bn deal imposed by EU regulators as a condition of the bank’s taxpayer bailout in the financial crisis.
Estimated to be have personal wealth of about £100m, Mr Jansen owns about $50m of Worldpay shares. He is expected to forfeit his multimillion-dollar unvested share awards at the payments processor, which BT Group is reluctant to buy out. Worldpay has a $30.7bn market capitalisation which is slightly larger than BT’s current value.
Other candidates for the role include Olaf Swantee, chief executive of Swiss telecoms company Sunrise, who has support internally having run EE before its sale to BT. Mr Swantee is well regarded by Deutsche Telekom, BT’s largest shareholder, and is experienced in the British sector after being brought in to lead the full integration of Orange and T-Mobile to form EE.
Others linked with the role include Ronan Dunne, head of US telecoms company Verizon’s consumer arm who previously ran O2, and Dominique Leroy who is chief executive of Belgian telecoms company Proximus.
Both Mr Jansen and BT declined to comment.
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