Ian Livingston, the chief executive of BT, is stepping down from his role at the head of the company to take up the position of Minister of State for Trade and Investment in the UK.

Livingston will remain chief executive of the BT Group of companies until he steps down from his post and the board in September, at which point he will be succeeded by Gavin Patterson, head of BT Retail since 2008.

“It has been an incredibly hard decision to leave BT at such an exciting time.  However, the opportunities ahead and the strength of the management team that Gavin will lead mean that the company is in a great position,” Livingston said. “I am immensely proud to have led this company over the last five years. We have made huge progress over the last few years but I know there is still so much more that BT can and will do.”

Livingston will take up his front-bench government position in December but will join the House of Lords prior to this. The exact start date of Patterson will be announced in due course, BT said.

The current chief’s departure does indeed come at an interesting time for the company as the BT Wholesale network continues to roll out fiber and copper based fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) superfast broadband to the masses. The company is also in the midst of an intensifying battle with Sky around its TV offerings.

Earlier this year, BT won the rights to broadcast 38 live Premier League football games from later in 2013, including the opening game of the season, putting it in direct competition with Sky’s sports channels. To step up the rivalry even more, BT then announced that its broadband customers could have access to its new sports programming at no extra cost.

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