Dunne, who left O2 two years ago to join Verizon in the US as head of the mobile arm, has met with BT in Britain in recent days, The Daily Telegraph reported, citing sources.
BT has been searching for a new boss after chairman Jan du Plessis asked Patterson to step down following a poor performance in the telecom giant’s shares.
Dunne spent more than a decade at O2 as chief financial officer and then chief executive, helping to build the telecoms firm’s brand despite little investment from its indebted Spanish owner Telefonica.
During his time at O2, he gained experience working with regulator Ofcom and the government. BT has been trying to improve its relationship with Ofcom and the government after being forced to separate its network arm Openreach over competition concerns.
Dunne is seen as a good candidate for boosting staff morale – an area that BT has struggled with amid its disputes with regulators, an accounting scandal in Italy and Patterson’s decision to cut 13,000 jobs before his departure.
Other possible candidates that are understood to be in line for the top job at BT include Dominique Leroy, the boss of the Belgian telecoms operator Proximus, and Lord Carter, the former head of Ofcom.