Home » News » New BT chairman: Mining boss Jan Du Plessis steps into hot seat

New BT chairman: Mining boss Jan Du Plessis steps into hot seat

Thursday, 9 March, 2017

A former tobacco company chairman will become the new BT chairman, taking over the top job at the multi-billion pound telecoms company.

Jan du Plessis will success Sir Mike Rake as BT chairman from 1 November 2017.

He comes direct from Rio Tinto, a British-Australian multinational and one of the largest mining companies in the world.

That business includes massive copper and diamond mines all over the globe.

He joins at a time of turmoil for BT, which is embroiled in an ongoing monopoly dispute with the industry regulator Ofcom over the future of Openreach.

Openreach engineeers service the UK’s broadband network and the division sells access to the network to BT’s biggest rivals.

Openreach engineer BT dispute

At Rio, du Plessis oversaw the delivery of £9bn in shareholder returns and cut operational costs by £4bn.

Until October 2016, he was chairman of brewers SABMiller, leading negotiations when ABInBev began a £79bn takeover bid.

South African-born du Plessis, 63, was once named in the top 10 most powerful people in the City of London.

He has been a director at Marks and Spencer and his previous jobs include finance director of Swiss luxury goods maker Richemont.

BT said du Plessis’ appointment, which was widely expected by the industry, was “unanimous”.

Jan du Plessis said: “I am honoured to have been asked to become BT’s Chairman. BT is a great British company with excellent people and Mike has done an outstanding job as Chairman over the last 10 years.

“This is an important time for the company and I look forward to working with Gavin [Patterson] and his team to help BT continue to support Britain’s digital future.”

Tom Rodgers author picture

By:

Tom is a tech journalist and former Editor at BroadbandDeals.co.uk.

News What's the story?

Keep up with the latest developments in UK broadband.

The biggest malware threats of 2020…so far

It’s been a year few of us will forget in a hurry, and we're only halfway through.

The biggest malware threats of 2020…so farThe biggest malware threats of 2020…so far Read more

Instagram could become the main news source for young people.

Reuters finds changes in the way younger users consume the news.

Read more

BT launches second line service

BT launches second broadband home line service for the new crop of home workers.

Read more

Best broadband areas for online gaming in the UK.

Read more

Help Learn with us

Make the most of the internet with our broadband library.

How to check if your broadband is down

It might seem obvious that an outage has occurred, but there are easy ways to check if your broadband is down, or whether the problem is more localised

How to check if your broadband is downHow to check if your broadband is down Read more

A guide to Big Tech alternatives.

It seems like we’re reliant on a small group of companies, are there alternatives?

Read more

Quick tips for boosting home broadband speed

Boosting speed can transform activities like streaming, gaming and accessing cloud storage

Read more

What’s the difference between hardware, firmware and software?

Read more