Probe into French billionaire's BT stake on national security grounds

Government launches probe into French billionaire’s stake in BT due to national security concerns: Sotheby’s owner Patrick Drahi increased holding from 12% 至 18% last year which raised fears of takeover

  • Ministers have launched probe into Patrick Drahi’s increased stake in BT
  • French telecom tycoon expanded his stake in former state-run telecoms giant
  • But his growing investment has sparked national security fears in Whitehall
  • Ministers have launched a probe into French telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi’s increased stake in BT amid national security fears.

    Mr Drahi’s investment vehicle Altice UK expanded its stake in the former state-run telecoms giant 12.1% 至 18% in December last year – making Sotheby’s billionaire owner BT’s biggest shareholder.

    Since the early 2000s, the French businessman has been buying into European and US telecoms companies.

    然而, his growing interest and investment in BT has fuelled speculation of an attempted takeover, and sparked national security concerns in Whitehall.

    Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has now told BT that the Government will investigate Mr Drahi’s increased stake using ‘call-in powersunder the new National Security and Investment Act.

    Patrick Drahi at the Ecole Polytechnique, in Palaiseau near Paris, 在四月 19, 2016

    Patrick Drahi at the Ecole Polytechnique, in Palaiseau near Paris, 在四月 19, 2016

    Undated handout photo issued by BT of their logo

    Undated handout photo issued by BT of their logo

    Mr Kwarteng will have the power to either clear the move or impose certain conditions on the investment – or block it completely.

    The Department for Business declined to comment on why the probe had been launched, when asked by MailOnline.

    A Government spokesperson said: ‘The Government has powers under the National Security and Investment Act 2021 to scrutinise and – if necessary – intervene in qualifying acquisitions on national security grounds.

    ‘The Business Secretary has decided to call in the acquisition of 6% shares by Altice of BT for a full national security assessment.

    BT is the biggest owner of the UK’s internet infrastructure through Openreach and EE, and also runs connectivity and service contracts across government and business.

    Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday Morning, hosted by Sophie Raworth. Sunday May 15, 2022

    Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday Morning, hosted by Sophie Raworth. Sunday May 15, 2022

    在 2020, BT found itself at the centre of a national security row about Chinese tech giant Huawei’s role in building Britain’s 5G network.

    The company was banned from the network by Boris Johnson’s Government, and all its existing 5G technology has to be stripped out by 2027, after China hawks accused it of spying on behalf of Beijing.

    在声明中, BT said: ‘BT Group plc has received notification from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that he has considered the increase by Altice UK of its shareholding in BT Group from 12.1% 至 18% and is exercising his call-in power under section 1 of the National Security and Investment Act 2021.

    ‘BT Group will fully cooperate with this review’.

    MailOnline has contacted Altice for comment.

    Patrick Drahi: The ‘king of cost-cuttingwho left a French company with a toilet paper shortage

    Moroccan-born billionaire Patrick Drahi’s cost-cutting measures have not always gone down brilliantly with the company’s he took over.

    在 2017 Mr Drahi’s personal fortune took a nosedive when he took on dozens of telecoms companies in a short period of time.

    Altice had a debt burden of £43billion which made it vulnerable and caused investors to flee. Shares were dumped and Mr Drahi suffered.

    But it seems he has since bounced back, as Altice, the company he founded in 2001, buys a 12.1 per cent share in BT, Britain’s largest telecoms company.

    Mr Drahi is infamous for sacking up to 30 per cent of staff at the firms he acquires. At French firm SFR his measures were so stringent staff did not have enough printer or toilet paper.

    One former supplier, who worked with Numericablea French cable operator founded by Mr Drahibefore the acquisition of SFR, 说在 2016: ‘Patrick Drahi is a real cost-cutter — a real one. He hates duplication.

    在 2017 Patrick Drahi's (如图所示 2016) personal fortune took a nosedive when he took on dozens of telecoms companies in a short period of time

    在 2017 Patrick Drahi’s (如图所示 2016) personal fortune took a nosedive when he took on dozens of telecoms companies in a short period of time

    Mr Drahi’s business career began when he and a US-born partner convinced mayors in southern France to allow them to lay cable for television in their towns.

    The partners sold the company to John C. Malone’s UPC and were paid in stocks. Mr Drahi later sold his position for £34.4million and went on to found Altice, which he used to buy up European cable companies.

    在 2013, Mr Drahi founded the international news channel i24news, which is based in Israel.

    Altice bought a 70 per cent stake in US cable company Suddenlink Communications, which was then valued at £6.4billion, 在 2015.

    In the same year he bought Cablevision from the Dolan family, which turned sour in 2018 when the Dolans sued over alleged violations in the terms of sale.

    最近, 在六月 2019, auction house Sotheby’s announced it was being acquired by Mr Drahi.

    去年九月, Mr Drahi offered £2.1billion (€2.5billion) to minority shareholders of Altice in order to take the company private.

    在三月 5 2021, Mr Drahi listed his net worth at £8.2billion ($11.7十亿), ranking him 248 on the Billionaires 2020 列表.

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