Patrick Drahi’s Altice UK has increased its interest in BT Group from 12.1 to 18%.
The increase in the UK’s former state-owned telecommunications business has attracted the attention of government ministers. Under the current Enterprise Act 2002, it falls to digital secretary Nadine Dorres to assess whether a full takeover of the FTSE 100 company is possible.
The government has said it will “not hesitate to act” to protect Britain’s critical national infrastructure. The question is whether that applies to BT itself or its infrastructure arm Openreach.
A six-month moratorium on the French-Israeli billionaire increasing his stake further expired on Saturday. Drahi’s original stake already made him the company’s largest shareholder.
In a statement issued to the stock exchange, Drahi said he had “engaged constructively with the board and management of BT in recent months and looked forward to continuing that dialogue.
“We continue to hold them in high regard and remain fully supportive of their strategy, principally to play the pivotal role in delivering the expansion of access to a full-fibre broadband network; an investment programme which is so important to both BT and to the UK.”