BT appoints Lucent's Verwaayen as CEO

U.K. telecommunication operator British Telecommunications PLC (BT) on Wednesday named Ben Verwaayen as chief executive officer (CEO), replacing Sir Peter Bonfield, who announced his departure in late October.

Verwaayen is to join BT on Jan. 14 as CEO-designate and will take over the CEO role fully on Feb.1 when Bonfield leaves. The 49 year-old Dutchman will receive a basic salary of 700,000 pounds (US$1 million), with total remuneration dependent on performance, BT said in a statement.

Verwaayen is a veteran in the telecommunication industry. He comes to BT from U.S. telecommunication equipment maker Lucent Technologies Inc., where he most recently served as vice chairman. Verwaayen worked as a senior executive for Dutch carrier Koninklijke KPN NV for 10 years prior to joining Lucent in 1997.

Bonfield had presided over BT for six years when he announced on Oct. 31 that he would leave a year ahead of schedule. BT and its chief executive had come under heavy criticism from competitors, customers, the financial community and the U.K. telecommunication regulator.

BT, like many other telecommunication companies, is going through heavy weather. The company has sold off many international interests and its mobile phone subsidiary in an effort to reduce a massive debt, generated largely by the acquisition of 3G (third-generation) mobile phone licenses.

BT saw another high profile departure earlier this year, when Chairman Sir Iain Vallance resigned in April and was replaced by Sir Christopher Bland.

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