Altice acquires 12.1% stake in Britain’s BT

Acquisition made through a new entity Altice UK, owned by billionaire Patrick Drahi

BT Tower in London                                 

French telecoms provider Altice has secured a 12.1% equity stake in Britain’s BT after acquiring 1.2 billion shares in the UK company.

The acquisition was made through a new entity, Altice UK, wholly owned by telecoms billionaire Patrick Drahi. It has been established to hold the shares in BT and is separate from the European and US businesses, the company said in the statement.  

Driven by a compelling opportunity

Altice said its UK division had made the investment in BT because 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”. 

In the statement, Drahi said: “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. We fully support the management’s strategy to deliver on this opportunity.

”Altice has a long and highly successful record of effectively operating national fibre and mobile networks in a number of countries, serving over 40 million customers.”

No takeover plans

Altice UK stressed in its statement that has no intention of making a takeover offer for BT and it has informed BT’s board of this – which effectively means Altice cannot make an offer to buy BT for six months under the city's rules governing takeovers. 

In its response, BT noted Altice’s statement of support for its management and strategy, and added: ”We welcome all investors who recognise the long-term value of our business.”

Market reaction

BT shares rose 2.1% in London trading at 08:58 BST (UTC -1) to 187p after earlier gaining as much as 4%. By 16:27 BST (UTC-1) the price was up to 195.6p. 

The stake puts Altice ahead of Deutsche Telekom, which owns 12.06% of BT based on recent filings, Refinitiv data shows. The stake was bought for Altice by Morgan Stanley and BNP Paribas.

Drahi owns Next Alt Sarl, which also controls Altice USA, Altice France, Altice International and Sotheby’s. He has a net worth of $12.3bn according to Forbes.

Further reading: BT accelerates broadband push to 5 million more UK homes

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