French billionaire’s stake in BT probed under Britain’s tough new security law

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  • In a note to shareholders on Thursday, BT announced that UK Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng is “calling out” in its deal with Altice, which is owned by telecoms magnate Patrick Drahi.
  • The deal will increase its stake in French multinational company BT Group from 12.1% to 18%.
  • Less than 24 hours ago, Quarteng announced on Twitter that they had called in Nexperia’s acquisition of Welsh semiconductor firm Newport Wafer Fab.

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The UK has launched an investigation into two major technology deals under its new National Security and Investment Act as it takes steps to protect its most prized technology assets from foreign acquisitions.

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In a note to shareholders on Thursday, BT announced that UK trade secretary Quasi Quarteng is “inviting” his deal with Altice, which is owned by telecom magnate Patrick Drahi. BT said it plans to “fully cooperate” with the review.

The deal, revealed in December, will increase its stake in French multinational BT Group from 12.1% to 18%.

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BT’s share price fell more than 4% in early morning trading on the London Stock Exchange.

The National Security and Investment Act came into force on 4 January. It gives the UK government the power to investigate and intervene in business deals that have the potential to threaten national security.

british icon

Tracing its origins since the founding of the world’s first public telegraph company in 1846, Beatty is a British icon. The firm was previously state-owned, but was privatized by the end of the 20th century.

In recent years, it has struggled to convince investors about its vision to upgrade national network infrastructure and become a major player in the next generation of 5G mobile internet. The company’s stock has fallen 42 per cent in the last five years.

Altis was founded in 2001 by Drahi. A prolific dealer, he made a name for himself by breaking into several cable and mobile companies in Europe and America. The billionaire entrepreneur was born in Morocco, but immigrated to France as a teenager. According to Forbes, his net worth is $6.6 billion.

Welsh Chipmaker

BT probe heats up after another probe.

Less than 24 hours later, Quarteng announced on Twitter that it would be reviewing Nexperia’s acquisition of Welsh semiconductor firm Newport Wafer Fab. Dutch firm Nexperia is 100% owned by Chinese electronics manufacturer Wingtech.

Semiconductors are a major technology that is the basis of today’s global economy. Countries have realized their importance over the years after chip shortages wreaked havoc across a wide range of industries.

The government has 30 working days (extendable to another 45 working days) to make the assessment.

In recent years, the UK has allowed some of its largest technology companies to be acquired by foreign buyers, leading to “technological sovereignty” concerns.

Cambridge chip designer Arm was sold to Japanese tech giant SoftBank in 2016 for $32 billion, while London artificial intelligence lab DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014 for about $600 million.

Credit: www.cnbc.com /

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