Altice enters UK market with 12% BT stake

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Global operator Altice has acquired a 12 per cent stake in UK incumbent BT Group, which will be held by the newly established Altice UK arm of the business.

Founded in 2002 by billionaire Patrick Drahi, Altice has existing networks across France, Israel, Portugal and the U.S. Altice UK was established specifically for holding the shares in BT.

Altice’s 12 per cent stake equates to around 1.2 billion shares, making it the incumbent’s largest shareholder. Based on BT's closing price of 183.15p the day before the announcement, Altice’s shares are worth around £2.2bn.

BT announced last month that it is further scaling up its FTTP deployment, with access infrastructure arm, Openreach ramping up delivery to 4m premises a year. BT said at the time that it believes shareholder value could be increased further by funding the additional premises through a joint venture with external parties and will explore joint venture structures over the first half of the current financial year. Philip Jansen, chief executive, BT Group stated: ‘BT is already building more full fibre broadband to homes and businesses than anyone else in the UK. We are increasing our FTTP target from 20 million to 25 million homes and businesses to deliver further value to our shareholders and support the government’s full fibre ambitions.’

Altice said in it’s statement that it supports this strategy, highlighting that it ‘holds the board and management team of BT in high regard.’ Further, it has informed the board that it does not intend to make a takeover offer.

Said the statement: ‘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.’

BT has responded, saying: 'We welcome all investors who recognise 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.’ 

Image credit: ThomBal/Shutterstock.com

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