Talent: It sticks out half a mile as BT CEO is made a peer

Jun 20, 2013

Mr. Livingston, for so he remains until September when he leaves BT and is inducted into the second chamber of the British Parliament and we all have to learn to call him "Lord Livingston" of wherever it is he will name himself after (Martlesham Heath perhaps?), is to become Trade and Investment Minister in the coalition government.

Mr. Livingston (48) has been appointed by the Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, and will take the Conservative whip. Well, at least we now officially know his political bent - as if we hadn't already guessed. Mr. Livingston, a multi-millionaire, has been a trenchant and vocal supporter of the government's apparently endless and increasingly discredited austerity programme. He also cut a few jobs at BT.

Mr. Livingston's new job is described as "important" and in terms of hierarchy the role is one level below Cabinet rank.

Livingston will parachute straight into the front-bench job without all the inconvenience and nonsense of having to be interviewed by various constituency committees, selected and approved as a candidate and then having to stand for election as a member of Parliament. After all, if he did that, the electorate might reject him. Ah, the Mother of Parliaments. Isn't democracy wonderful?

That said, this government has 23 months to run (at the most) before a General Election is held and then things really will be in the hands of the voters. It'll be interesting to see if he'll still be a minister after May 2015. He'll still be a lord though - until he pops his clogs - that's the way the system works.

In a statement, Livingston said his decision to leave BT was hard and it will be "real wrench" to go. He added, "My initial reaction was that BT is at a really exciting time. But when the prime minister asks you to do something for the country it’s difficult to say no."

Mr. Livingston will not be paid a salary or stipend for his new job but he will, of course, be allowed, to claim expenses. He will leave BT with a golden goodbye worth some ten million pounds and more. His annual pay is £2.4 million and his target-based share incentive scheme is worth £7.8 million. He already owns £7.5 million in BT shares and has earned £16 million over the past two years.

BT's next CEO will be Gavin Patterson, current head of the telco's Retail division. Mr. Patterson is the moving force behind BT's plan to go-head-to head with BSkyB by offering three new and competitive TV sports channels.

In a valedictory paean the BT chairman, Sir Mike Rake said of mr. Livingston, "Ian has done a tremendous job in transforming BT. His decision to accept a Government post demonstrates the sense of public service which many of us know to be characteristic."

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