BT's Vallance to be replaced by BBC chairman

Sir Iain Vallance is to step down as chairman, but Sir Peter Bonfield remains -- for now

Sir Iain Vallance announced on Wednesday morning that he would step down as chairman of BT next week, following months of criticism and pressure. He will be replaced by BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland.

BT's falling share price has led to much speculation that both Vallance and chief executive Sir Peter Bonfield could be forced out of BT, which is £30bn in debt. Vallance will leave his job on 1 May, but will continue to sit on the BT board as "president emeritus" until July 2002.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today Programme, Sir Christopher Bland explained that he had no immediate plans to replace Bonfield. "The relationship is something we'll have to work at," he said.

BT's share price fell to 476p last month, its lowest since January 1998. The company is trying to reduce its debt levels by selling off property, and by turning its telephone boxes into mobile phone base stations. Reports even suggested that it was considering auctioning off its fleet of vans.

Credit rating agency Moody's recently warned that BT was facing a ratings cut, which would force up the cost of its borrowing.

In the light of recent events at the BBC and BT Guy Kewney highlights certain similarites between the two organisations and begs the question as to how clever it is to borrow money to finance debt? Guy says that Sir Christopher Bland can't pull miracles out of the hat for the BBC; so there's no reason to suspect he has the faintest idea of what it would take to walk on water at BT. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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