Altice could be set to increase its stake in BT

EE BT Store
(Image credit: BT)

Patrick Drahi, Altice founder and BT’s largest individual shareholder, is reportedly eager to increase his stake in the company, believing plans to roll out fibre and 5G connectivity will pay off handsomely in the long run.

His Altice UK vehicle acquired 12% of BT back in June, a move that took many in the industry by surprise. He then pledged not to launch a takeover bid for at last six months, a legally-binding commitment that expires on December 11.

Drahi has already given his backing to BT’s network strategy and existing management structure, support plans to cover 25 million homes and businesses with full fibre by 2025.

BT Altice

The suggestion is that he believes these deployments will increase BT’s value in the future. Buy assembling a larger stake sooner rather than later, Drahi's potential gains would be far greater.

Reuters says Drahi intends to take advantage of his freedom from his legally binding commitments when they expire in next month and plans to build up a stake that could also involve BT’s second largest shareholder – Deutsche Telekom. 

The German telco has a 12% stake after receiving shares through BT’s 2016 takeover of mobile operator EE. All three parties declined to comment to the agency.

Altice was founded by Patrick Drahi in 2001 and has since grown into France’s second largest telecoms provider through acquisitions of various regional cable companies and mobile operator SFR. It also has a significant presence in Israel, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic.

It is speculated that any move for BT could be tied to an exit from Portugal. Several private equity firms have been linked with a takeover, however it is thought that the asking price is putting off some potential suitors.

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.