BT’s new investor suggests fibre JV, sale of Openreach stake may not be needed

29 Jun 2021

Following the revelation last month that Altice UK – a newly formed company controlled by Patrick Drahi – had acquired a 12.1% stake in BT, making it the telco’s biggest shareholder, the Franco-Israeli telecoms entrepreneur has now reportedly reconfirmed his support for BT’s plans to spend billions on the rollout of both full fibre and 5G services.

With the announcement of the stake purchase last month having sparked speculation that BT could be pressured to divest a stake in Openreach, or indeed spin the unit off altogether, the development came less than a month after BT had set out a plan to find a partner to help build part of its new fibre network. Now, however, a source cited by Reuters has suggested that Drahi and some of BT’s other major investors, including Deutsche Telekom, do not now believe a fibre joint venture (JV) is necessary, unless the potential partner could access cheaper capital. Meanwhile, with BT’s share price having increased by around 30% since May 2021, this development is said to have lessened the likelihood of a stake sale or spin-off of Openreach, with some investors reportedly believing a company split would be a distraction during the fibre roll out.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), Openreach