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Britain to examine billionaire’s BT stake
Pic: Shutterstock

26 May 2022 / business Print

Britain to examine billionaire’s BT stake

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.

Broadband programme

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.

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