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Bonfield acknowledges his Concert failure

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Sir Peter Bonfield has acknowledged his failure as chief exec of BT to bring the money-burning monster that was Concert under control.

"What we did not anticipate was the huge reduction in pricing as a huge amount of capital went into international traffic," Bonfield said on a conference call today discussing the final break-up of the AT&T joint venture. "We did not take out costs fast enough in Concert."

It doesn't look like much but we read this as a tacit admission by Sir Pete of his inability to foresee where Concert was going, what effect that would have on BT, that BT's effort to become an international telco was doomed and that he has hopelessly mishandled the situation ever since he first became aware of the fact it was all a bad idea.

It has taken new chairman Sir Christopher Bland to really push the split-up of Concert through. And at no small cost either - £1.2 billion in fact. But at least Bland had the balls to make a decision and go with it.

Is Pete going through a period of reflection? Re-evaluating his performance as head of BT before he finally leaves the path free for someone else? Can we expect more acknowledgements of his failures?

We hope so, and here are our top three Bonfield BT cock-ups in case he needs any help.

  • His abject inability to see how important the Internet would become to BT and the UK in general. As witnessed in years of BT stalling and arguments. Spent more time explaining why everyone was wrong than actually seeing where his company ought to go. Famously told a conference that people would have to go to night schools if they wanted to use the Internet - because it would be too expensive for most.

  • His abject inability to see how important mobile phones would become to BT and the UK in general. Manifested itself in a series of extremely late, small and foolish stakes taken out in mobile companies in Europe and the Far East. These had to be sold off around a year later as BT's debt became unmanageable and everyone realised a minority stake holding was useless if you were hoping to build a worldwide brand.
  • His abject inability to see that his blinkered views were ruining BT, creating a culture of arrogance and inertia and had ultimately turned a company that could have been a world beater into a dinosaur requiring massive restructuring to keep itself alive. ®
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