Government to probe French billionaire’s BT stake over national security fears

Patrick Drahi’s Altice increased its holding from 12.1% to 18% in December last year.

26 May 2022

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has told BT that the Government will examine French billionaire Patrick Drahi’s increased 18% stake in the company over national security concerns.

Altice, the telecoms company’s biggest shareholder, increased its stake from 12.1% to 18% in December last year, increasing fears that the business could be ripe for a takeover.

The Government will now seek to examine the move using “call-in powers” under the new National Security and Investment Act.

Sunday Morrning
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has the power the clear the investment, impose certain conditions or block it completely (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Mr Kwarteng will have the power to either clear the move or, “if necessary and proportionate”, impose certain conditions on the investment or block it completely.

“BT Group will fully co-operate with this review,” the company said in a statement.

On announcing his investment last year, Mr Drahi said he had no plans to take the business private, as he snapped up a further 585 million shares to increase his stake.

The Government said it was “monitoring” the investment at the time.

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