EXCLUSIVE-Altice founder Drahi seeks bigger stake in Britain’s BT – sources

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LONDON, Nov 12 (Businesshala) – Telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi is looking to increase his stake in BT Group as he seeks to increase his influence in the British company, saying its fiber-optic rollout will boost value, three sources familiar with the matter said. told Businesshala.

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Since the billionaire Altice founder bought a 12.1% stake in BT on June 10 for about 2.2 billion pounds ($2.95 billion), shares of the British telecom giant have fallen 15% and are down nearly 46% over the past five years.

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Altice UK, the new vehicle of the Franco-Israeli entrepreneur, is BT’s largest shareholder, ahead of Deutsche Telekom, which holds 12.06%.

Deutsche Telekom has repeatedly shown interest in reviewing its stake options and CEO Tim Hoyts said on Friday that he was keeping “all options open” with respect to BT.

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Three sources, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Deutsche Telekom is likely to be involved in any stake-building plan.

Altice, BT and Deutsche Telekom declined to comment.

Drahi, 58, backs BT’s plan to build a fiber-optic network to 25 million homes by the end of 2026.

He would be free to buy more of the British telecom giant on 11 December, after pledging in June that he would not launch a takeover offer for the company – a statement that prevented him from doing so for six months under UK takeover rules. slap down.

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Sources said the increase in Druhi stake in BT could be in conjunction with a possible Altice exit from Portugal.

Drahi hired Lazard earlier this year to represent Altice Europe NV, which controls mobile and fixed line service provider MEO, to review its business options in Portugal, according to different sources. previously told Businesshala.

A group of private equity funds and infrastructure investors, including European funds EQT and CVC Capital Partners, have come forward for the business, but price expectations are seen as a major deterrent, according to sources, who warned that a The deal was not certain.

A representative for Altice said the business was not for sale in Portugal. EQT declined to comment, while CVC was not immediately available to comment.

Three sources familiar with the matter said corporate buyers, including Spanish telecoms firms Telefónica and Massamovil, have deemed the unit too expensive and will not submit an offer.

Druhi has set a price tag of around 7 billion euros ($8.01 billion) for the business, which is nearly eight times its annual original earnings and increases pressure on bidders, who have until Christmas to decide. Whether they want to make a firm offer or walk away, the sources said.

Telefonica and MasMovil declined to comment.

$1 = 0.8737 Euro Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London and Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon; Additional reporting by Gwenelle Barzic in Paris, Paul Sandel in London, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Clara-Layla Laudette in Madrid; Editing by Praveen Charu

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