BT facing national security investigation as French billionaire increases stake in company by 18%

The Government is to examine French billionaire Patrick Drahi’s increased 18 percent stake in BT, the telecoms firm announced

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

Altice, the telecoms company’s biggest shareholder, increased its stake from 12.1 percent to 18 percent 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.

BT
BT
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

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 said in a statement that the group "will fully cooperate with this review".

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.