Ian Livingston has quit the top job at BT, after being poached by Prime Minister David Cameron to take on a key trade and investment role for the government.
The surprise announcement that Livingston will leave the national telco in September comes at an extremely busy time for BT - which is currently rolling out its fibre network to much of the UK. The company's final third deployment to the harder-to-reach parts of the country is being propped up by government investment under the troubled Broadband Delivery UK scheme.
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Despite the timing, the PM - whose Culture Secretary Maria Miller has come under fire for the handling of the BDUK project - clearly would prefer to see Livingston in Parliament.
He will take up a front-bench government position in the House of Lords in December as Minister of State for Trade and Investment, BT said.
Livingston's successor is Gavin Patterson, who is the the current boss of BT Retail - a wing of the business where sales for the company have been falling for successive quarters.
Cameron and Livingston hanging out together
On his decision to leave the company, Livingston said:
I am honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to take on the role of Minister for Trade and Investment, with a remit of helping the growth of British companies and the country's future economic success. It has been an incredibly hard decision to leave BT at such an exciting time. However, the opportunities ahead and the strength of the management team that Gavin will lead mean that the company is in a great position.
I am immensely proud to have led this company over the last five years. We have made huge progress over the last few years but I know there is still so much more that BT can and will do.
Patterson joined the telecoms giant in 2004 and became a member of the board in 2008. He will start his new job as BT's CEO in September.
BT shares have fallen nearly 3 per cent on the London Stock Exchange immediately following the announcement. ®