Altice UK upped its stake in BT Group from 18 per cent to 24.5 per cent, acquiring 650 million additional shares worth around £962 million as the company’s billionaire owner Patrick Drahi tightens his grip on the operator.
In a brief statement announcing the increase, Altice UK reiterated it does not intend to make a takeover offer for BT, although the move now means Drahi has almost double the stake of Deutsche Telekom, the next biggest investor in the company.
Despite maintaining an intention not to launch a takeover, Drahi is also now close to hitting a 30 per cent ownership threshold which would require a mandatory offer under UK rules.
His investment vehicle Altice UK has been quietly building its stake in the operator, after disclosing a 12 per cent holding in 2021 which was increased to 18 per cent a year later.
The second increase was subject to a national security review, although no further action was taken from the UK government.
News of the latest increase comes around a week after BT announced large-scale job cuts as part of efforts to slim its business, which will see it reduce its workforce by up to 55,000 by end-March 2030.
Altice UK added Drahi is not seeking a seat on BT’s board and he is supportive of the company’s strategy and management.
The billionaire is, however renowned for building stakes in undervalued telecoms assets, making a series of deals in France, the US and Portugal.
Fellow UK-based rival Vodafone Group is also grappling with advances from an international investor, with UAE-based e& recently increasing its holding in the operator to 14.6 per cent.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back