Annual Review and summary financial statement

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Annual review home
Chairman's message
Chief Executive's statement
Growth through transformation
Report of operations and financial review
Auditors' statement
Summary financial statement
Summary report on directors' remuneration
Summary directors' report
Corporate governance
Board of directors
Information for shareholders

Corporate governance

It is BT’s policy to achieve for all our operations best practice in our standards of business integrity. The directors consider that BT has, throughout the year, complied with the provisions set out in section 1 of the 2003 Combined Code on Corporate Governance.

Board, directors and board committees
The Board is currently made up of the part-time Chairman, the Chief Executive, four other executive directors and seven independent non-executive directors. It is BT’s policy that the Board will comprise a majority of independent non-executive directors. The roles of the Chairman and the Chief Executive are separate. The non-executive directors provide a strong, independent element on the Board. Sir Anthony Greener, the Deputy Chairman, is the senior independent director. Non-executive directors are appointed initially for three years at the end of which the appointment may be continued by mutual agreement. The Chairman and the non-executive directors meet regularly without the executive directors. The Chairman ensures the views of shareholders are known to and appropriately considered by the Board.

The Board’s principal focus is the overall strategic direction, development and control of the group. A formal statement of its role is available on the company’s website. Historically, the Board has met every month, except August. For the 2006 financial year, and going forward, the Board will meet at least nine times each year.

During summer 2004 the Board carried out a further evaluation of its performance. A number of actions were agreed as a result. As part of this process, the Chairman has one-to-one sessions with the directors; the Deputy Chairman, Sir Anthony Greener, meets all directors individually to review the Chairman’s performance.

To meet best corporate governance practice, Audit, Remuneration and Nominating Committees have long been an established part of BT’s system of governance. Each committee has written terms of reference, which are available on the company’s website. The Audit and Remuneration Committees are made up entirely of independent non-executive directors. The Board considers that several of the Audit Committee’s members have recent and relevant financial experience. The Audit Committee reviews the company’s published financial results, the Annual Report and Form 20-F and other published information for statutory and regulatory compliance and reports its views to the Board. It recommends the appointment, reappointment and remuneration of the company’s external auditors. The Board has policies determining what non-audit services the company’s external auditors can provide in order to safeguard their independence and objectivity.

The Nominating Committee ensures an appropriate balance of experience and abilities on the Board, using this evaluation to review the size and composition of the Board and to recommend any proposed changes to the Board.

The Chief Executive, Ben Verwaayen, chairs the Operating Committee, which meets weekly.

Internal control and risk management
The Board is responsible for the group’s systems of internal control and risk management and for reviewing the effectiveness of those systems. Such systems are designed to manage, rather than eliminate, the risk of failure to achieve business objectives; any system can provide only reasonable and not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.

BT has processes for identifying, evaluating and managing the significant risks faced by the group. These processes have been in place for the whole of the 2005 financial year and have continued up to the date on which this document was approved.