Billionaire Drahi’s Altice increases stake in BT to 18%

Altice, the telecom investor controlled by billionaire Patrick Drahi, has increased its stake in BT to 18%, raising expectations that it may eventually seek to take control of the company’s former phone monopoly. UK.

Drahi said on Tuesday that he was “constructively engaged with BT’s board and management” and looked forward to continuing that dialogue.

The government issued a statement immediately after the stake increase, saying it was monitoring the situation “carefully” following the move. “The government is committed to upgrading the country through digital infrastructure and will not hesitate to act if required to protect our vital national telecommunications infrastructure,” it said.

The government cited the National Security & Investment Act that will come into effect in January.

BT released a statement saying it would continue to do business “for the benefit of all shareholders”.

Drahi’s stake build-up in BT marks the departure of the investor and entrepreneur, who is best known for taking control of undervalued telecom assets through the subsequent purchase of debt. sell them piece by piece.

Shares in BT, built through a new UK parent company, were previously just over 12% after Drahi surprised the British firm by becoming the UK’s largest shareholder. June with an investment of £2 billion.

Drahi reiterated that he has no intention of making an offer to the UK telecommunications group, but said that could change if the circumstances were right, including if a third party informed the offer. intend to make an offer to the corporation or if Altice is approved by the BT board. .

BT stock, which is up just over a fifth this year, was down 3.6% in early trading.

In the statement, Drahi said of BT’s leadership that “we continue to appreciate them and remain fully supportive of their strategy, which is essentially to play a key role in expanding access into a full fiber optic broadband network; a very important investment scheme for both BT and the UK. ”

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