Patrick Drahi is reportedly looking to increase his stake in BT Group with a view to boosting his influence at the British communications provider, Reuters reports, citing three sources familiar with the matter. With the Franco-Israeli businessman having acquired a 12.10% stake in BT worth about GBP2.2 billion (USD2.95 billion) in June this year, his investment vehicle Altice UK is now BT’s largest single shareholder, ahead of Deutsche Telekom (DT), which has a 12.06% stake. The three sources, who Reuters said declined to be named ‘due to the sensitivity of the matter’, were cited as saying that any stake-building plan was likely to involve DT. While the companies involved all declined to comment on the matter, DT has previously expressed an interest in reviewing options for its BT shareholding, while DT CEO Tim Hoettges was quoted as saying last week that he was keeping ‘all options open’ regarding BT.
It is understood that Drahi will be able to acquire more of BT shares from 11 December, having previously pledged on acquiring his initial stake in June that he would not launch a takeover effort for the telco – that statement precluded him from doing so for six months under UK takeover rules.