BT boss Gavin Patterson says the Italian accounting scandal that has convulsed the telecoms group is now under control, but acknowledges shareholders are unhappy. As Ivor Bennett reports, the new comments come as the group reports its third-quarter results.
Repair jobs like this require stable foundations. The Italian accounting scandal wiped out a fifth of BT's market value. And revealed a half-a-billion pound blackhole on its books. BT's boss insists the situation is now under control. Even if the share price doesn't show it. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER DIXON, GLOBAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, SAYING: "I mean the Italian business is not a huge part of BT's overall business network. And yes there are problems there. Yes, there do appear to have been some accounting irregularities. But I rather suspect that the overall market reaction has been overdone." It's the same picture CEO Gavin Patterson tried to paint for investors. Acknowledging their anger, but telling them not to lose sight of a core business he said that's operating well. The group said it added over 80,000 broadband customers in its third quarter. On top of over 270,000 who switched to faster fibre connections. But the results have been overshadowed by events that have gone before it Bad news for BT and some say, UK PLC. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, CIBC, SAYING: "Clearly, the row over Volkswagen for example continues to rumble on. So yes, I think we have to be mindful of the risk parameters, particularly for the UK in the short-term, and the news headlines and backdrop haven't been encouraging." BT's adverts used to tell its customers it's good to talk. But now it's boss wants investors to listen, hoping their connection doesn't get cut off.