Orange disposed of its 2.5 per cent stake in UK operator BT for £486 million, a price drastically lower than the value of the shares when acquired in 2016 as part of the sale of mobile business EE.
The French operator group cut back the size of its original four per cent stake in BT at the start of 2017, and booked a loss on the remainder later that year.
BT’s deal to acquire EE from Orange and Deutsche Telekom (DT) was first struck in 2015, and at the time, Orange’s stake was worth approximately £1.7 billion according to BT figures.
Among the buyers in the latest sale is BT itself, which bought 41 million of the 248 million shares for around £80 million.
The shares were part of the proceeds from the sale of its half of UK operator EE to BT. From the deal, completed back in 2016, Orange took €3.4 billion in cash and the shareholding in BT. Deutsche Telekom opted for a 12 per cent BT stake for its half of the company.
By the time the lock-in period preventing the sale of Orange’s interest closed in January 2017, BT’s share price had already plummeted. The UK incumbent issued a profit warning following accounting problems in its Italian unit and a number of issues in the UK market.
As Orange began cutting back its stake, DT also wrote down the value of its interest. To avoid litigation from the two shareholders, BT made a combined £255 million payment to the two companies in July 2017.
In two years since the payment BT’s share price has continued to decline. In May 2019 its price dipped to its lowest point since January 2012. The operator is also midway through sweeping cost-cutting measures and replaced its CEO at the start of 2019.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back