Unite with Ignite to save cash, says BT's new boss

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The Independent Online

Ben Verwaayen, BT's new chief executive, will tomorrow exorcise the ghosts of the previous regime with a strategy aimed at welding the group's businesses closer together.

The Dutchman, who replaced Sir Peter Bonfield in February, is expected to end the two-year programme of spin-offs that left BT with four business units – Retail, Wholesale, Ignite and Openworld.

Instead, the former Lucent executive will say that the divisions should work more closely to drive down costs.

In what will be his first big strategy announcement, Mr Verwaayen will say BT no longer considers itself a global player and will focus on its domestic market.

BT's previous international strategy, driven by Sir Peter and former chairman Sir Iain Vallance, is widely credited with saddling BT with a debt mountain that topped £30bn.

Mr Verwaayen's plan will have three themes for the next year: customer service, revenue growth and broadband roll-out. Ignite, BT's loss-making business-to-business telecoms division, is expected to receive special attention.

The City has been worried that Ignite's market has dwindled as demand for services such as web-hosting has dived. However, Mr Verwaayen is expected to say Ignite will focus its attentions on bigger corporate clients.

Monday will also be the first opportunity for the City to meet BT's new finance director, Ian Livingston, who recently replaced Philip Hampton.

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