Altice’s UK unit acquired a 12.1 per cent stake in BT Group, worth around £2 billion, with the former’s billionaire owner Patrick Drahi backing the operator’s strategy and dismissing any prospect of a full takeover.

The stake puts Altice UK a few shares ahead of Deutsche Telekom as BT’s largest shareholder, based on data from a number of share analysis websites including MarketScreener, which placed the German incumbent’s stake at also around 12.1 per cent.

Altice UK is a legally separate company from its affiliates in the US and Europe, the latter of which owns French operator SFR among other telecoms assets across several markets. Drahi also owns Altice Europe after taking the company private earlier this year.

Explaining the investment, Altice UK pointed to BT’s opportunity to expand high-grade broadband connectivity, adding the country provided a “sound environment for substantial long-term investment”.

Drahi said BT had “a significant opportunity to upgrade and extend its full-fibre broadband network to bring substantial benefits to millions of households across the UK. We fully support the management’s strategy to deliver on this opportunity”.

In its statement, BT explained it welcomed “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”.