Ben Verwaayen

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Ben Verwaayen
Ben Verwaayen, 2009.jpg
Verwaayen in 2009
Born (1952-02-11) 11 February 1952 (age 71)
EducationDriebergen school
Alma materUtrecht University
Employer(s)ITT Corporation (1975-1988)
PTT Telecom(1988-1997)
Lucent Technologies (1997-2003)
BT Group (2003-2008)
Alcatel-Lucent (2008-2013)
Political partyPeople's Party for Freedom and Democracy

Bernardus Johannes Maria "Ben" Verwaayen, KBE (born 11 February 1952) is a Dutch businessman and a general partner of Keen Venture Partners.[1] He was Chief Executive Officer of telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent from 2008 to 2013.

Early life[edit]

Verwaayen is the fifth of six children born to a family who owned a chemicals business in Driebergen.[2] At school, he organised the first student parliament, and after graduating from Utrecht University with a degree in law and international relations in 1975, wanted to be a journalist or politician.[2]


On graduation, he decided to immediately undertake his National Service with the Royal Netherlands Army, where he founded the Algemene Vereniging Nederlandse Militairen (General Association of Dutch soldiers), a union that existed until 1996.

On leaving the army, to enable him to continue his work with the trade union, he joined a subsidiary of ITT Corporation because it gave him time to sit on a Dutch state committee to reform the army.[2] His first promotion came after he went to the European Union Parliament in Brussels to protest about the company's alleged role in the overthrow of Salvador Allende's government in Chile; ITT responded by making him its Netherlands public relations chief.[3]

In 1988, Verwaayen became a director of PTT Telecom, the state-owned Dutch telecoms group that was a forerunner of today's KPN; and then was appointed a board member of Lucent Technologies in 1997, moving to the United States. A committed Anglophile,[4] he became CEO of BT in 2003.[5] During his time there, he was also a board member for Dutch television production company Endemol, and chaired the Confederation of British Industry committee on climate change.[4] There was controversy over his management style at BT, with accusations that BT Global Services had to write down substantial losses and that Verwaayen was to blame.[6][7]

After standing down from BT on 1 June 2008 when Ian Livingston took over,[8] there was speculation that he would pursue a career in Dutch politics.[3] On 2 September 2008 the Alcatel-Lucent board of directors appointed Verwaayen as the company's chief executive officer, succeeding Patricia Russo. In March 2009, he forwent a €520,000 cash bonus after a pay freeze had been imposed on staff and a loss-making 2008.[9] He was less restrained in later years; his salary increased by 30% between 2010 and 2012, even as losses continued at the company.[10][11]

On 22 February 2013 the Alcatel-Lucent board of directors appointed Michel Combes as the company's CEO, succeeding Verwaayen, effective 1 April.[12] He joined Akamai Technologies as a director in November 2013.[13]

In 2016, Verwaayen founded Keen Venture Partners, a venture capital firm providing early growth capital for technology companies.[14] Since April 2020, he has been Chairman of Renewi plc.[15]


During his military service, Verwaayen founded the Algemene Vereniging Nederlandse Militairen (General Association of Dutch soldiers), a union that existed until 1996.

Verwaayen has been a longtime member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. He sat in its executive for ten years, and also contributed to its election programme for the 2006 Dutch elections. At various times, he was linked with a Cabinet position. The current Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, has named him as one of his closest advisors.[16]


Verwaayen has received various honorary awards and has been made Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau (Netherlands), Honorary Knight of the Order of the British Empire KBE (United Kingdom), and a knight in the Legion of Honour (France).

Personal life[edit]

Married to Helena, the couple have two children.[4] They currently reside in Paris, but had a family home in Haslemere, Surrey where Verwaayen hosted a party in summer 2008, attended by 1,300 guests including former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, UK government ministers Stephen Twigg and John Denham.[2] Verwaayen, a tennis player himself, put on a celebrity tennis match between John Lloyd and Ilie Năstase,[2] and is also a fan of Arsenal F.C.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Keen Venture Partners |". (in Dutch). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Ben Verwaayen manifesto - Page2". London: The Telegraph. 7 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  3. ^ a b "The Ben Verwaayen manifesto". London: The Telegraph. 7 September 2008. Archived from the original on 10 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d "The Ben Verwaayen manifesto - Page3". London: The Telegraph. 7 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  5. ^ *website BTgroup Ben Verwaayen CEO Archived 15 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine on 15 May 2008
  6. ^ Evans, Simon (17 May 2009). "BT's Livingston is 'drinking at the last-chance saloon'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009.
  7. ^ Fildes, Nic (15 May 2009). "Ex-BT boss Ben Verwaayen in firing line over losses". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  8. ^ Website Times Online Ian Livingston to.... posted on 9 April 2008 visited: 15 May 2008
  9. ^ Hollinger, Peggy (22 March 2009). "SocGen cancels executives' stock options". Financial Times. Paris. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  10. ^ Alcatel-Lucent unions call for executive salary cuts
  11. ^ Alcatel-Lucent 2011 Annual Report on Form 20-F (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2012
  12. ^ Alcatel-Lucent names Michel Combes as CEO Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine Reuters, 22 February 2013
  13. ^ "Board of Directors".
  14. ^ "Keen Venture Partners is a new European VC firm founded by ex-BT CEO – TechCrunch". Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Renewi appoints Ben Verwaayen as Non-Executive Chairman". Renewi. 9 March 2020.
  16. ^ Maarleveld, Derick-H. (2011). In gesprek met Mark Rutte. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker. p. 238. ISBN 978-90-351-3649-6.

External links[edit]