Altice says it supports BT management and wants to help its rollout of fibre broadband
French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi has taken a 12pc stake in BT through his Altice vehicle as the former state monopoly pushes ahead with the rollout of fibre broadband across the UK.
The newly created Altice UK, wholly owned and controlled by Mr Drahi, has agreed to buy 1.2 billion shares of BT. The shares had a value of about £2.2bn as of Wednesday’s close.
Altice said it had “high regard” for the management of BT and was “supportive of their strategy”. It added: “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.
“Altice believes that the UK provides a sound environment for substantial long-term investment.”
Mr Drahi said that he did not intend to make a full bid for BT and that he would use Altice’s expertise in rolling out fibre networks to help BT expand across the UK. With this deal, Mr Drahi will become the company’s largest investor, holding a stake comparable to that of Deutsche Telekom.
BT said it welcomed “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,” it added.
It comes as BT’s chief executive Philip Jansen looks for ways to share the load of a potentially costly network upgrade after years of shrinking profits. The telecoms giant signalled last month it was exploring potential joint ventures as it raised its goal of bringing full-fibre broadband to 25m homes and businesses by December 2026, an increase of 5m on its previous plans.
Altice was founded by Mr Drahi in 2001. He also has business interests in the US and Israel and owns Sotheby’s auction house.
Billionaire Patrick Drahi Net worth