Business

BT chief Jansen approached about WPP chairmanship

Philip Jansen, the outgoing BT Group boss, has been approached about becoming the next chairman of WPP, the FTSE-100 marketing services giant.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Jansen, who is to step down from the telecoms company in the spring, is one of a number of prospective candidates to have been sounded out in recent weeks about the post.

City sources said on Monday that WPP’s search was not yet at an advanced stage and there was no certainty that Mr Jansen or WPP would decide to progress his candidacy further.

His impending exit from BT has prompted speculation about his corporate future, with a move to the US or into private equity both possibilities.

A former boss at MyTravel and Worldpay, Mr Jansen began his career at Procter & Gamble, the American consumer goods giant and one of the world’s biggest spenders on advertising.

WPP signalled last year that it had begun succession planning to find a replacement for Roberto Quarta, its chairman since 2015.

The most seismic period of his tenure came in 2018, when the company’s figurehead for three decades, Sir Martin Sorrell, was forced out of the company.

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Sir Martin has since listed a digitally focused rival to the major advertising holding companies called S4 Capital, which has also endured a difficult time amid deteriorating sentiment towards technology stocks.

He was replaced at WPP by long-standing colleague Mark Read, who remains its chief executive.

Insiders said that WPP was expected to pick a chairman from outside the ranks of its existing board members, who include the former Burberry chief Angela Ahrendts and Tom Ilube, the chair of the Rugby Football Union.

WPP, which has a market value of just over £8bn, and Mr Jansen both declined to comment.

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