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Aiming to re-energise staff, new head of BT hands out shares

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Aiming to re-energise staff, new head of BT hands out shares
FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed outside of a BT building in London, Britain January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo   -   Copyright  Neil Hall(Reuters)
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By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) – The new boss of Britain’s BT Group will give each employee 500 pounds worth of shares, at a total cost of 50 million pounds, in one of his first moves to drive better performance at the telecoms giant.

Philip Jansen took over the top job at the country’s biggest mobile and fixed-line telecoms provider in February, tasked with overhauling the former monopoly and building the next generation networks that are central to the growth of the economy.

“I’m asking our colleagues for their commitment to making BT a national champion and I want to give them ownership in our company and a share in our success,” Jansen said on Thursday.

The world’s oldest communications company employs more than 100,000 people in 59 countries. It is in the middle of a turnaround, cutting 13,000 jobs and moving out of its London headquarters. Jansen said it would also introduce a new logo.

“BT has lost its confidence a little bit,” he told reporters, adding the problems were mainly due to poor systems and processes rather than underperforming staff.

The shares will have to be held for three years in a bid to promote longer-term thinking and a drive to improve the focus on customers, he said.

One BT share is currently worth 204 pence, down 20 percent in the last six months. The company has a market value of 20.5 billion pounds.

Leading politicians in Britain have called for major companies to share their success with employees, with the opposition Labour Party vowing to transfer as much as 10 percent of a large company’s shares to workers if they win the next election.

Jansen oversaw a similar scheme at his previous firm Worldpay, and other companies have launched different initiatives to engage their staff.

Earlier this week, the head of the music and TV firm Richer Sounds handed control of the company, and large bonuses, to his staff, while outsourcer Capita has appointed two members of staff to its board.

Politicians also routinely point to the model of leading retailer John Lewis, owned by all its staff, who receive an annual bonus based on its performance.

(Additional reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison)

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