Drahi acquires 12% stake in BT for £2.2bn

Drahi acquires 12% stake in BT for £2.2bn

10 June 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Patrick Drahi’s Next Alt S.à r.l, through its subsidiary Altice UK, has purchased a 12% stake in  UK incumbent telco, BT, valued at approximately £2.2 billion ($3.1 billion).

Positioning Altice UK and by extension Drahi as BT’s biggest shareholder with the acquisition of 1.2 billion shares, the company saw its post-announcement share price jump up 3% at 189 pence each of, as of 9am GMT, 10 June 2021.

Overall, Next Alt has ownership of five different companies, “each financially standalone and independent”. These are: Altice UK, Altice USA, Altice France, Altice International, Altice Dominican Republic and Sotheby’s, a global art and luxury company.

Altice UK, the company specially set up for this acquisition, said that it “…holds the board and management team of BT in high regard and is supportive of their strategy. Altice UK has informed the BT board that it does not intend to make a takeover offer for BT. A key issue now is how Altice intends to unlock value."

Altice also hinted that it would be encouraging BT to spin off its subsidiary Openreach, its independent infrastructure unit.

In a separate statement, BT Group said that it “…notes the announcement from Altice of their investment in BT and their statement of support for our management and strategy. 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.”

The news comes as BT recently confirmed it is looking for external parties to form joint ventures to expand the fibre network being built by its Openreach last-mile subsidiary.

At the time, the company said that “in the last year Openreach passed a record two million premises with FTTP. Openreach now believes that it has the capability to reach around four million premises a year. … BT has decided that the conditions are right to increase and accelerate its total FTTP build from 20m to 25m premises by December 2026.”

More recently, the company announced that it is hard at work on trials into new type of optical fibre - hollow core fibre - at the BT Labs in Adastral Park, Ipswich.

The trials are a collaborative project with BT partnering Lumenisity, a Southampton University spin out company, and open radio access network (O-RAN) mobile vendor, Mavenir, using 10km-long hollow core fibre cable.