French Telecoms Giant Altice Acquires Stake In BT

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France’s second largest telecoms firm Altice purchases 12 percent stake in British carrier BT, but denies takeover intentions

A major French telecoms firm has purchased a notable stake in the former British telecoms incumbent BT Group.

Altice UK has purchased a 12.1 percent stake in BT, BT confirmed to Silicon UK in an email. Altice UK it should be noted is a business wholly owned by Patrick Drahi, who is a French-Israeli telecoms billionaire, who is also the founder and head of Altice Europe, which is the second largest telecoms firm in France.

But it seems that Drahi and Altice is not interested in making a takeover move for BT.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Altice “holds the Board and Management team of BT in high regard and is supportive of their strategy.”

Stake acquisition

And it went on to confirm that it does not intending to make a takeover offer for BT.

“Altice UK has informed the BT Board that it does not intend to make a takeover offer for BT and will be bound by that statement for the purposes of Rule 2.8 of the UK’s Takeover Code,” the LSE statement reads.

“Altice UK has made this significant investment in BT as it believes that it has a compelling opportunity to deliver one of the UK Government’s most important policies, namely the substantial expansion of access to a full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband network throughout the UK,” it added.

“Altice believes that the UK provides a sound environment for substantial long-term investment,” it said. “This is supported by the current regulatory framework which offers BT the appropriate incentives to make the necessary investments.”

“BT has a significant opportunity to upgrade and extend its full-fibre broadband network to bring substantial benefits to millions of households across the UK,” said Patrick Drahi. “We fully support the management’s strategy to deliver on this opportunity.”

“We understand that the expansion of the broadband network is one of the UK Government’s most important policy objectives and a core part of its levelling up agenda,” said Drahi.

BT response

BT told Silicon UK it welcomes the investment from Altice.

“BT Group notes the announcement from Altice of their investment in BT and their statement of support for our management and strategy,” BT told Silicon UK in an emailed statement. “We welcome all investors who recognize the long-term value of our business and the important role it plays in the UK. We are making good progress in delivering our strategy and plan.”

It should be noted that Altice is not the only foreign telecom firm with a stake in BT.

In 2016 when BT paid £12.6 billion to acquire mobile operator EE, Deutsche Telekom became BT’s largest shareholder, with a 12 percent stake.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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