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BT Openreach Loses CEO Joe Garner at Pivotal Point for Telecoms Giant

Monday, November 16th, 2015 (7:50 am) - Score 1,367

In a surprise move BT has confirmed that the Chief Executive Officer of their Openreach division, Joe Garner, is step down in order to take on the same role at the Nationwide Building Society. The switch comes at a pivotal point for the telecoms giant, which is facing the possibility of a split from BT group.

The BTOpenreach division is responsible for maintain and managing access to BT’s national telecoms and broadband network across the United Kingdom, which is currently facing the threat of full separation as part of Ofcom’s on-going Strategic Review (here). Suffice to say that now is perhaps not the best time to be changing the boss.

Never the less Garner is officially expected to take up his new post at some point during the Spring 2016, after handing over to his successor, although BT doesn’t yet know who will take over the reins in a role that seems certain to present plenty of moving challenges.

Joe Garner, Outgoing CEO of Openreach, said:

I’ve greatly enjoyed my time at Openreach and deciding to leave has been an extremely hard decision, but Nationwide is a firm I long-admired during my time in financial services. The opportunity to become CEO of one of Britain’s most important financial institutions and service champions just proved too good to turn down.

I would like to thank the thousands of dedicated Openreach engineers who work so hard in the most challenging of conditions to keep millions of homes and businesses connected. They are the unsung heroes of the nation’s internet infrastructure.

In my view, it is BT’s investment that has helped the UK to become one of the strongest digital economies in the world and I am proud to have contributed. Openreach is now poised to take the UK from a superfast to an ultrafast nation and I am confident it can achieve this as part of the BT family. I wish my successor at Openreach and everyone there and at BT all the best for the future.”

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group, said:

I am sad to see Joe leave but he is moving to a terrific job and I wish him well. Openreach is a stronger and more customer focused business as a result of his leadership and he leaves it in good shape as we begin our ultrafast journey.”

At this point we’d normally give a brief summary of the things that an outgoing CEO has overseen but, aside from the mild impact of Ofcom’s last Fixed Telecoms Market Review(s), Garner hasn’t really been in the job long enough to rack-up much of a history. Indeed most of his dealings in the role have reflected largely routine or expected developments (e.g. G.fast and other changes have all been in planning for longer than his tenure).

On the other hand the fact that Garner will be leaving the CEO post next spring suggests that he’ll stay just long enough to see Openreach’s hold on the UK telecoms market weakened, albeit perhaps more through stiffer regulation than full separation. We don’t yet know the outcome of Ofcom’s review, but all the same we wouldn’t risk a bet on it being full separation.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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