I am pleased to report that
we are recommending a full year dividend of 15.8 pence per share, up 5% from
last year, reflecting the groups strong performance and the Boards
continued confidence in the
future of the business.
Thanks to Ben and Christopher
Before saying anything else, I want to pay tribute to your Chief Executive of the past six and a half years, Ben Verwaayen, who will be stepping down on 1 June 2008. Ben has been a truly exceptional Chief Executive.
His courage, determination, vision and energy have transformed BT.
he arrived in 2002, BT was a deeply troubled organisation with huge debts and
an uncertain future. Since then, under his leadership, BT has delivered Broadband
Britain, built a successful and fast growing global operation and changed the
regulatory landscape in the UK through the creation of Openreach. This has enabled
the most competitive broadband market in the world to flourish. Ben has also and
Ill return to this overseen
the creation of a diverse and hugely impressive talent pool in BT at executive
team level and throughout our many operations and specialist businesses around
the world. He has restored pride in BT and I know that he feels that in many
ways this will
prove to be his most important legacy.
Great credit is also due to my predecessor Sir Christopher Bland who stepped down in September. He was an outstanding Chairman to whom I and the rest of BT owe a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Number one for customer service
been at BT for eight months and have enjoyed my time here enormously. Having
had a chance to meet BT people and get a first hand view of operations, I am
convinced that we have the right strategy and, just as importantly, the right
team to take it forward. That team consistently demonstrates that it has the
imagination and agility to deliver for our customers.
need to drive standards higher for the whole of the industry. Being number one
for service in our own sector is simply no longer good enough. We have to make
outstanding customer service a differentiator for BT. That will enable us to
build on our position as Britains favourite broadband provider, grow our
wholesale and global businesses, and drive down the costs we incur when things
The transformation that Ben and Christopher initiated continues.
Our wider responsibilities
is vitally important for companies to be responsible and contributing members
of the communities in which they operate. BT has an enviable track record when
it comes to living up to its social and environmental responsibilities and I
am delighted that we won Business in the Communitys prestigious Company
of the Year award for our positive impact on society. The award goes to the company judged to be improving its business and its overall impact on society, in the marketplace, the workplace, the environment and the community, through leadership and integration of responsible
business practices. We were also the top telecommunications company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the seventh year in a row.
The importance of such awards is that they highlight all the hard work, imagination and commitment throughout our organisation that is focused on operating in an ethical, sustainable and socially responsible
Around one third of BT people
are involved with corporate social responsibility related activities. We provide
the manpower and technology for major charity appeals including Children in Need
and Comic Relief, and we
are working closely with childrens charity Childline on a campaign to ensure
that no call for help goes unheard.
we increasingly operate globally, so the emphasis is on being good citizens of
the world and making a difference worldwide. For example, when your Board recently
held a meeting in India, we were able to see the marvellous work that the Katha
IT and E-commerce School (KITES) which BT supports is doing for
kids in one of Delhis
We recognise that we have a responsibility to the environment and aim to be a leader in the new low-carbon economy. Ben Verwaayen chaired a recent CBI task force which was set up to make recommendations on combating
climate change. And we are very conscious of the importance of reducing our emissions
and reducing waste in-house. Our CO2 emissions in the UK are 58% lower than they were in 1996 and we aim to improve this to 80% by 2016. Our contract to purchase green energy is one of the largest in the world and we are developing wind powered projects which should meet up to
25% of our UK electricity needs by 2016.
creation of a genuinely competitive environment, wherever we operate around the
world, is fundamental to our continued ability to meet our customers needs.
the UK, it is vital that the regulatory environment should enable us to make
the necessary investments in the next generation of the UKs communications
infrastructure with confidence.
In the European Union we are also looking for a level playing field that allows BT access to other markets.
have to make
service a differentiator
Im delighted that Ian Livingston
is taking over from Ben as your Chief Executive. He has delivered brilliantly
for BT, both as Group Finance Director and CEO of BT Retail. He was the clear
choice of the Board after a rigorous process. He leads a team of executive directors
of exceptional talent: Hanif Lalani, who was recently named the 2008 Real FD/CBI
finance director of the year (FTSE 100); François Barrault, CEO of BT
Global Services; and Gavin Patterson, who has been CEO of BT Retail since 1
like to thank Andy Green and Paul Reynolds both of whom stepped down as executive
directors during the year. They provided first-class support
for Ben over a number of years and I wish them well in their new careers. My
thanks also to Larry Stone who provided excellent support to the Board as Company
Secretary for the past six years, and who moves on to become BTs
President of Group Public and Government Affairs. He is replaced by Andrew Parker
who was previously General Counsel, BT Retail.
have also been a number of changes to your non-executive team during the year.
Baroness Margaret Jay and John Nelson both left after six years of invaluable
service to BT. In their place, I would like to welcome two new non-executive
directors, both of whom bring a wide range of skills and experience with them.
In addition to a distinguished political career, Patricia Hewitt has extensive
business and international experience. Eric Daniels is group CEO of
Lloyds TSB. In addition, his years as chairman and CEO of Zona Financiera, a
leading Latin American financial portal, will be of great value to us as we seek
to build further our presence in the region.
A Games for the Digital Age
very proud to report that in March 2008 we announced that BT had been selected
as the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic
Games and Paralympic Games.
As a company committed to the proposition
that better communications can mean better lives and a better world, we will
be providing the communications services infrastructure for one of the worlds greatest
sporting events and putting the BT brand at the heart of a Games for the Digital Age. The partnership will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase BT and our capabilities who we are, what we believe in and what we can do in
the context of a key event in the life of the nation.
also delighted that BT is giving a boost to Team GB athletes by helping fund
their journey to the Beijing Olympic Games in August.
From our perspective, the countdown to London 2012 has already started.
Looking to the future, BT will
continue to deliver on its strategy and to create new and exciting ways for our
customers to communicate and collaborate. That strategy is creating value for
our shareholders. In 2009, we expect to deliver continued growth in revenue,
earnings per sharea as we continue our transformation from a fixed-line business
into a software-driven global communications services company. We also expect
our free cash flow to be at a similar level to 2008 and to increase dividends
per share in 2009. I believe that we have the right team in place and the right
culture throughout the organisation an absolute commitment to the customer
and a determination to get it right first time. There is every reason for optimism.
Sir Michael Rake
14 May 2008
a Before specific items and leaver costs.