Altice – the French telecoms outfit that operates fibre and mobile networks serving more than 40 million punters in the US, France, Portugal and Israel – has bought a £2bn chunk of BT, it announced today.
Today’s move means that Altice UK, a company set up for the acquisition, now holds 12.1 per cent of Britain’s former state-owned monopoly.
Execs at Altice – itself owned by French telecoms billionaire Patrick Drahi – were quick to try to calm any jitters, insisting it has “informed the BT Board that it does not intend to make a takeover offer for BT”.
Instead, Altice claimed it holds the board and management team at BT “in high regard and is supportive of their strategy.” A sentiment perhaps not shared by everyone in BT’s workforce.
Explaining the thinking that prompted the investment, it said:
The UK government agreed recently – on behalf of British taxpayers – to allow BT to pay minimal tax for the next couple of years to help fund FTTP builds. BT had been paying £200-£300m a year.
With BT’s share price down more than 58 per in the last five years, it seems like a good time for Altice to swoop in the hope that returns on its investment…