Patrick Drahi pursues his ambitions in the United Kingdom. Already the largest shareholder of British Telecom (BT), the billionaire and leader of Altice (SFR) has just offered a little more of the incumbent operator across the Channel and now holds 24.5% of the capital, against 18% previously. That is an additional investment, at BT’s current price, of just under a billion pounds.
Despite his heavy debts contracted in France and in the United States, the entrepreneur who said a few years ago “sleep better with 50 billion in debt than with 50,000 in [ses] debut” had entered BT in June 2021 by taking 12% of the capital. Since then, the European telecom sector has been buzzing with the real intentions of the businessman.
Sue on the English fiber
According to a press release from Altice UK released on Tuesday May 23, a takeover bid (OPA) is still not in the cards. In a note, UBS analysts recall that the British government had accepted last August the rise in capital of the French but had reserved the right to relaunch their reflection in the event of new operations.
For the time being, Patrick Drahi, 100% owner of Altice UK, becomes twice as present in the capital of BT as the second shareholder, Deutsch Telekom. Admittedly, BT is not in its best shape today with stagnating turnover (20.6 billion pounds) and rising investments. But these expenses should enable the group to deploy the very high-speed fixed fiber optic network across the Channel. However, this sounds like a good opportunity to the ears of Patrick Drahi.
BT will cut 50,000 jobs
Present in France and Portugal, where the bulk of the investments have been made, Altice is well aware that fiber pays off in the end. “Altice UK anticipates that capital expenditure (capex) will fall, while cash generation will strengthen,” notes Pierre-François Merveille, credit analyst at Oddo BHF.
A few days ago, BT already said ready to cut 50,000 jobs by 2030, especially with its subcontractors. The group intends to entrust certain tasks to artificial intelligence software that is less expensive than employees, while part of the workforce employed in deploying fiber will no longer be useful to it.