Britain’s business minister is to use powers granted under 2021 legislation to examine the acquisition of a stake in telecoms group BT by a French billionaire.
Patrick Drahi's company, Altice, bought more shares in BT in December, bringing its stake from 12% to 18%, and triggering speculation about a takeover bid.
In a statement, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that the move had been ‘called-in’ for a full national-security assessment.
Under the National Security and Investment Act 2021, the British government has the power to scrutinise and, if necessary, intervene in certain business deals on national-security grounds.
It now has 30 days to carry out that assessment, although this period can be extended by up to 45 days.
BT is currently building a fibre-broadband network across Britain, a programme the British government sees as important in boosting regional growth.
In Ireland, the forthcoming Investment Screening Bill will introduce the State’s first investment-screening regime for foreign direct investment.
This will give the Government the power to assess, investigate, authorise, condition, prohibit or unwind foreign investments from outside the EU, based on a range of security and public-order criteria.