BT Retail chief executive Pierre Danon resigned this morning to take up the position of chief operating officer at Capgemini in early 2005.
The surprise announcement prompted industry insiders to speculate that the level of in-fighting between BT's three divisions has reached a new intensity.
According to analyst group Ovum, Danon's departure was probably precipitated by ongoing tensions over the scope of BT Retail's role.
"The recent in-fighting rumours about whether BT Retail should be allowed to invest in its own local-loop unbundling may have had some substance after all," Ovum chief analyst Julian Hewett and Ovum principal consultant Mike Cansfield stated in a report.
"It's probably an indication of a more general disagreement over whether BT Retail should just be a retail channel, or whether it should have more freedom to invest in its own business development."
The report noted that there is no obvious internal successor to Danon, but speculated that Royston Hoggarth, recently departed head of Cable & Wireless in the UK, could be a suitable candidate.
"We think it's likely that BT chief executive Ben Verwaayen will use this opportunity to shift some of the internal boundaries. We're thinking particularly of services for the business market, some of which sit uneasily between BT Retail and BT Global Services," the Ovum report speculated.
Danon joined BT Retail as chief executive in October 2000 and was appointed to the board in November 2001.
"I am thrilled by the scale of the new opportunity offered to me by Capgemini," he said.
Verwaayen added: "I would like to pay tribute to Pierre's winning spirit, and to thank him for the part he has played in building an exciting future for BT."
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