Having made £1bn in gross savings well ahead of March 2023 deadline, more cuts could be on BT's agenda

Now exec talk turns to defence against corporate takeovers and where next for efficiency gains

BT is said to be mulling whether to widen the multibillion-pound cost savings initiative that began in 2018 after meeting financial goals well ahead of the deadline.

The former state monopoly, which reports its latest quarterly Profit & Loss accounts on 4 November, released a statement today updating on its progress.

"BT confirms that it has delivered on its £1bn of gross annualised cost savings 18 months ahead of the March 2023 target," it told the London Stock Exchange.

The existing "transformation" programme that begun under previous BT chief exec Gavin Patterson includes shedding 13,000 staff and reducing real estate by 90 per cent with the aim of saving up to £1.5bn in annual overheads.

The senior management team led by Philip Jansen is reported to be considering further action to reduce operating expenses, although some BT execs are said to be waiting for French billionaire Patrick Drahi to show his hand first. Drahi runs Altice, which took a 12.1 per cent stake in BT in June for £2bn.

Drahi, who said at the time of the initial investment that Altice did not wish to take over BT, is tied by the no-bid statement for six months, meaning he will be finally free to file a bid from the 10th of next month.

According to Sky last week, BT hired advisory outfit Robey Warshaw, alongside Goldman Sachs, to consult on a number of different scenarios. These include Altice making a formal takeover of BT or demanding that BT spins out its consumer business or Openreach, the broadband plumbing division.

BT is also understood to be working with investment bankers at Lazard on a potential sale of or partnership for its sports broadcasting operation.

Politicians are paying great interest to proceedings as BT has been tasked with helping to build superfast broadband across the UK, pledging to bring FTTP connectivity to 25 million premises by the end of 2026.

As might be expected, given the scale of the transformation agenda at BT, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will no doubt be watching from the sidelines on 4 November to ascertain if BT goes public with further efficiency goals.

On 12 May, the eve of the union's national ballot for strike action – its first since 1987 – BT agreed to suspend talks on compulsory redundancies and has since agreed with the CWU to draw up principles to shape future planning on pay and job losses.

Adam Crozier – formerly chief of the Football Association, ITV, and Royal Mail – is joining BT from a month today, following the exit of Jan du Plessis.

The Register has asked BT to comment. ®

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