BT confirmed it will appoint Jan du Plessis as chairman replacing its current head later this year. South African-born du Plessis will take over from Mike Rake, after joining the board of Britain's biggest telecoms group in June before assuming the top job on 1 November.

Du Plessis, 63, is currently chairman of miner Rio Tinto, and will step down from the role later this year after leading the group since 2009.

He has a range of experience leading some of the world's biggest firms. He was chairman of brewer SABMiller when it accepted an improved £79bn offer from Belgian rival AB InBev last year.

Du Plessis, a trained chartered accountant who also is a British national, has also been chairman at British American Tobacco.

BT has expanded in recent years by re-entering the mobile market with the £12.5bn acquisition of leading operator EE in 2015 and setting up a TV service backed by spending billions on sport rights.

In January, the group led by chief executive Gavin Patterson, issued a profit warning after revising up the cost of an accounting scandal at its Italian business by more than three times to £530m.

The group has appointed new management and is working to sort out how sales, purchases and leasing transactions are handled across the region.

Du Plessis said: " This is an important time for the company and I look forward to working with Gavin and his team to help BT continue to support Britain's digital future."