Gavin Patterson, the former chief executive of BT Group, will this week stage his corporate comeback by taking a senior job with Salesforce, the $134bn American enterprise software giant.
Sky News has learnt that Mr Patterson is to be appointed Salesforce’s chairman for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – a newly created role – seven months after leaving the FTSE-100 telecoms company.
The recruitment of Mr Patterson is expected to be announced by New York-listed Salesforce on Thursday, industry sources said.
It will be the first post that he has taken on since stepping down after five-and-a-half years running BT – a tumultuous period in which he returned the company to the mobile phone market and engineered its entry into live sports broadcasting.
The Salesforce role will be one of a portfolio of jobs that Mr Patterson is expected to take on.
One source close to his appointment said it provided a fresh signal of Salesforce’s determination to expand its footprint in the EMEA region.
The company produces software that helps corporate clients manage relationships with existing customers and attract new ones – a booming segment of the cloud software industry.
Mr Patterson’s profile and network are expected to be seen as valuable in helping to build Salesforce’s multinational customer base in the UK and Europe, where BT has extensive interests through its Global Services division.
A former Procter & Gamble manager, he has also held senior roles at companies including the cable-TV operator Telewest.
His departure from BT came within months of the appointment of Jan du Plessis as the company’s chairman, and surprised some investors in light of the board’s support for Mr Patterson’s strategy.
While there had been concerns expressed about BT’s share price performance, his successor, Philip Jansen, has so far largely endorsed Mr Patterson’s moves to overhaul the former state monopoly.
Last year, Mr Patterson announced plans to axe thousands of jobs alongside symbolic moves including the departure from its long-serving London headquarters, which was presented as an attempt to accelerate BT’s modernisation.
His appointment at Salesforce makes Mr Patterson the second top-flight British executive to join the US software company in as many months.
It recently announced that Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia would become its UK chief executive in October.
Salesforce, which is run by joint chief executives Marc Benioff – who also serves as the company’s chairman – and Keith Block, announced plans earlier this year to invest $2.5bn in its UK operations.
It has become one of the world’s fastest-growing software companies, and is also a serial investor in fledgling technology businesses through its ventures arm.
Salesforce recently acquired Tableau, another cloud enterprise company, for $15.7bn – the biggest takeover in its history.
The American company has also struck an alliance with the Chinese internet giant Alibaba to distribute its products in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
From a standing start in 1999, Salesforce is now one of the most richly valued software companies in the world.
The company declined to comment on Wednesday, while Mr Patterson could not be reached for comment.
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