Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

Billionaire’s stake in BT faces security probe

Billionaire’s stake in BT faces security probe

The government is to examine French billionaire Patrick Drahi's increased stake in BT over national security concerns, the telecoms giant has said.

Mr Drahi's company, Altice, increased its investment from 12% to 18% in December, prompting speculation the firm could face a takeover bid.

The Business Secretary will now probe the move using new powers under the National Security and Investment Act.

BT said it would co-operate with the review.

In a statement, BT said that business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was exercising his "call-in power" under the National Security and Investment Act 2021.

The new legislation came into force earlier this year, giving the government powers to scrutinise, impose conditions on, or block acquisitions on national security grounds.

BT is in the middle of a transformational programme to build a national broadband fibre network, a strategy crucial both to the company and the government, which says it wants to boost regional growth.

Shares in BT fell 4% in morning trading in London.

Mr Drahi, who also owns auction house Sotheby's, first began buying BT shares last June. His purchase of just over 12% of the company, worth £2.2bn at the time, made him the largest shareholder.

He now owns 18% of BT - 12% short of 30% at which point the takeover rules would force him to make an offer for the whole company.

Mr Drahi's stake-building in BT sparked rumours about other possible bidders.

Timing 'no surprise'

When news emerged of Mr Drahi's increased stake in December, Altice said it did "not intend to make an offer for BT".

Under British takeover rules, that barred Mr Drahi from making such a move for six months.

Karen Egan, a telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis, says that explains the timing of this probe.

"That was December, and we're now almost in June, so it's no surprise we're seeing this now," Ms Egan said.

She said that the government was attempting to "get ahead of the situation" and send a message to Mr Drahi "not to assume" that a bid would be allowed.

"The new bill is designed to protect assets exactly like BT," she said.

"The government is quite sensitive over this, primarily on security grounds. It's very unlikely that they'd be happy with Mr Drahi taking over BT."

Who is Patrick Drahi?

* Born in Morocco to a Jewish family in 1963

* French, Israeli and Portuguese citizenship

* Based in Switzerland

* Founded Altice, a French multinational telecoms group

* Owns Sotheby's auction house

* Worth $6.7bn (£5.3bn), and is one of the world's top 400 billionaires, according to Forbes


Related Articles

Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Drew Barrymore
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?
Is Gold the Ultimate Safe Haven Asset in Times of Uncertainty?
Spain officials quit over trains that were too wide for tunnels...
Corruption and Influence Buying Uncovered in International Mainstream Media: Investigation Reveals Growing Disinformation Mercenaries
Givenchy Store in New York Robbed of $50,000 in Merchandise
European MP Clare Daly condemns US attack on Nord Stream
Former U.S. President Carter will spend his remaining time at home and receive hospice care instead of medication
Tucker Carlson called Trump a 'demonic force'
Kamala Harris: "The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity."
US Joins 15 NATO Nations in Largest Space Data Collection Initiative in History
White House: No ETs over the United States
U.S. Jet Shoots Down Flying Object Over Canada
Nord Stream terror attack: David Sacks breaks down Sy Hersh's story
Being a Tiktoker might be expensive…
Miracle: El Salvador Search and Rescue teams, with the support of Turkish teams, rescued a woman and a child from the rubble 150 hours after the earthquake
SpaceX, the private space exploration company, made a significant breakthrough in their mission to reach space.
China's top tech firms, including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, NetEase, and, are developing their own versions of Open AI's AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT
This shocking picture, showing how terrible is the results of the earthquake in Turkey
President Joe Biden delivered the 2023 State of the Union Address , in order to help Americans that missed the 2022 speech, do not have internet, and suffer from short memory.
The desk of King Carlos Alberto of Sardinia has many secret compartments
Today's news from Britain - 9th February 2023
China has declined the US's request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speak with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe after the US Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, according to the Pentagon