* Analysts worry on strategy delivery
* Former telecom monopoly has recovered under Livingston
* CEO taking up government post to promote UK business
By Sarah Young
LONDON, June 19 BT Chief Executive Ian
Livingston said on Wednesday he was stepping down to take up a
government job promoting British business, knocking shares in a
telecom company he has helped reposition on the path to growth.
Livingston, in charge since 2008, has taken BT to the verge
of a return to overall revenue growth after the former state
monopoly was brought low by a series of profit warnings five
Investors wiped more than half a billion pounds from the
market value of BT in response to the announcement, worried that
its recovery might lose momentum under successor Gavin
Patterson, its head of retail.
"The question mark that everyone's going to have is, has he
got that widespread set of skills that Ian had around finance,
around dealing with the regulators, and that I think is going to
be something that the market will worry about," said Liberum
analyst Lawrence Sugarman.
Under Livingston BT has placed a big bet on superfast
broadband, investing more than 2.5 billion pounds to roll out
coverage to more than two-thirds of the UK population by the end
of spring next year.
The company has also now launched the next phase of its
ambitious strategy by splashing out on costly sports rights in a
bigger push into television.
Strong results and the new strategy had helped BT's shares
reach their highest levels since 2007.
But the stock fell as much as 3.9 percent immediately after
the announcement that Livingston would in December replace
former HSBC chairman Stephen Green as Minister for Trade and
Shares in the company pared earlier losses to trade down 1.7
percent at 1531.
Andrew Millington, Investment Director of UK large companies
at Standard Life Investments, the number six shareholder with a
1.84 percent stake in the company according to Reuters data,
said that he welcomed Patterson's appointment as a safe pair of
"That message of no strategic change, given the success of
the last five years, that's what shareholders are going to be
looking for," he told Reuters.
Paterson, aged 45, has been at BT since 2004, primarily
working in its retail division. He previously worked for cable
Livingston will be tasked with driving investment in Britain
and promoting exports, part of the government's attempts to
restore the British economy to health.