New role at BT for ex-Lloyds chairman

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The Independent Online

BT named Maarten van den Bergh as its new deputy chairman yesterday to lead the search for a new chairman. The appointment was announced at the annual meeting yesterday that attracted hundreds of shareholders to the Barbican theatre in London.

Mr van den Bergh, a former chairman of Lloyds TSB and managing director of Royal Dutch Shell, has been a non-executive director of BT since September 2000. He remains a non-executive director of Shell as well as British Airways and is also the chairman of Akzo Nobel's supervisory board. He will succeed Sir Anthony Greener who steps down on 30 September after six years on BT's board.

The predominantly elderly shareholders at the Barbican took potshots at BT's board, chaired by the quick-witted Sir Christopher Bland, who is due to retire next year. BT's automated customer service telephone system was repeatedly criticised, with one shareholder complaining it had taken 15 minutes to speak to a relevant BT staff member. Sir Christopher admitted that what is known internally as "the BT shunt" remained a problem. Other attendees complained about high prices and being charged to call directory enquiries.

Sir Christopher said BT was "determined" to make its customer service world class.