Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 13/12/2001BT has a new boss - Ben Verwaayen, previously vice-chairman of Lucent Technologies. The share price takes a dive as people grumble that he didn't seem to do much good at Lucent and anyway, he's Dutch.

Thursday 13/12/2001

BT has a new boss - Ben Verwaayen, previously vice-chairman of Lucent Technologies. The share price takes a dive as people grumble that he didn't seem to do much good at Lucent and anyway, he's Dutch.

Which is nonsense. Lucent has been doing very badly of late, it's true, but it's not clear that the market would have allowed it to do any better no matter what anyone did. Before he was at Lucent, he was at Dutch telco KPN, and that's far more interesting. KPN used to be the state telco, with all the sins that this implies. It has transformed into a European player with a reputation for innovation, smart deal making, decent service and a thoroughly sane appreciation of how to use its resources in a market with some much bigger players. If he can do the same for BT, I for one will be overjoyed.

As for having a Dutchman in charge of British Telecommunications, plc -- wake up, chaps. We're Europeans. We desperately need that perspective, if we're not to mutter ourselves into national sad old githood. And didn't people say something similar about the audacity of having a Swede running the footy?

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