BT Global Services Hires Jeff Kelly as CEO

BT’s global services unit got a new CEO on Friday.

Jeff Kelly, a U.S. citizen, comes to the Britain-based telecom service provider from Electronic Data Systems Corp. Kelly ran that $10 billion company, which was bought by Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2008. Kelly replaces Hanif Lalani who said he’s leaving BT to pursue personal business interests. Lalani worked at BT for 26 years.

BT has been looking to the global services division to help it escape the mire of eroding landline use but that hasn’t happened. BT Global Services’ costs have risen faster than its sales and that’s led to several write-downs and restructuring charges over the past couple of years. Francois Barrault, then-head of BT Global Services, resigned amid those troubles.

But Kelly’s appointment should serve BT well, a Sanford Bernstein analyst told the Wall Street Journal. Kelly has a “great background because EDS is one of the few places that’s done a proper and successful turnaround of businesses,” Robin Bienenstock told the Journal.

Kelly said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“I know from experience that Global Services enjoys a terrific reputation for its customer service and client base,” he said in a prepared statement. “My job is to build on those foundations and create a business that delivers value to BT’s shareholders as well as its customers.”

Kelly’s job won’t be easy. BT has cut thousands of jobs over the past year and expects to implement more – about one-third are said to be in store for global services workers.

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