Openreach sale remains a possibility for BT

BT Tower.jpg

The sale of a stake in Openreach is potentially still on the table according to BT chief executive Philip Jansen.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference on Wednesday, Jansen said that, ahead of regulations being published next year, he is “open minded” on the possibility of selling part of the business.

He continued to say that Openreach was an “undervalued” asset and that selling a stake will remain a possibility until British regulator Ofcom clarifies the regulatory position on fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) build outs.

Ofcom’s ruling is expected in March or April 2021. Openreach said earlier this year that fibre will be available to “more than 75% of homes” in selected exchange areas by the end of March.

Jansen said: “We feel - I feel - that really BT is undervalued for the kind of business that we are and the assets that we have.”

He added: “Would I be open minded about looking at a minority interest on it, moving that on to someone else? Potentially. But I can't see us doing that until well after we've agreed the regulatory framework, until March, April next year.”

However, Jansen did rule out the monetisation of BT’s infrastructure.

On that point, he explained: “There are things that we can consider but we are not really interested in sale and leaseback.”

Capacity reported in May that discussions were being held around a part sale of Openreach. At the time, it was understood that BT was talking to Australian investor Macquarie and an unnamed sovereign wealth fund about backing the last-mile fibre and copper company.

The following month, reports claimed Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was building a stake in BT itself. And in August, BT’s share price jumped 7% following reports it was preparing to defend against a reported £15 billion takeover bid.

On the divestment side, in March BT shed its global legal, accounting and professional services software business Tikit, selling it to Advanced. BT acquired Tikit for more than £64 million in 2012.