Altice UK has recently announced an increased holding of shares in the UK operator group BT to nearly one-quarter. The company, however, has no plans for a full acquisition bid. Altice’s latest acquisition includes 650 million shares, raising its overall holding to 24.5% compared to the previous 18%.
The UK government conducted an investigation into this matter last year. It concluded that Drahi’s involvement in BT does not pose a national security risk. While it is possible that the government may take another look, the current situation does not seem significantly different from the previous one.
In terms of the Takeover Code, Altice is obligated to make an acquisition bid only when its shareholding reaches 30%. Despite possessing such a considerable stake, the company is still required to offer specific assurances under Rule 2.8. Consequently, Altice has reiterated that it does not plan to make any offer for BT. Except, if they receive an invitation from the BT board or if another party attempts to acquire the company.
Drahi’s reasons for wanting such a substantial stake in another telco remain unclear. While it may grant him significant influence at the top level, Vivendi’s experience with TIM indicates that this can be an unstable situation. Nonetheless, Drahi’s move appears to be in line with the broader trend of telecommunications insiders acquiring significant stakes in UK telco groups. This is evidenced by e&’s growing interest in Vodafone.
The incident demonstrates the shifting landscape of the telecommunications industry and the potential influence of major players on industry trends. It will be interesting to observe how these investments and acquisitions impact telecommunications companies’ strategies and operations in the long run.