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Takeover interest

US private equity giant KKR said to be pursuing BT

Openreach worker

Openreach is said to be worth twice as much as its parent

US private equity company KKR is said to be taking a close interest in telecoms giant BT.

The UK business has seen its share price almost half this year, putting it on the radar of a number of potential suitors.

But any move by the American company to acquire one of Britain’s prized blue chip firms will cause concern in the City and at Westminster.

The government is keen to strengthen laws that would protect strategic firms from foreign takeover.

While BT is now languishing the FTSE 100 with a value of just £10.4 billion, the company is playing a crucial role in a major upgrade of Britain’s broadband network.

BT chairman Jan du Plessis and chief executive Philip Jansen have hired advisers at Goldman Sachs to draw up a defence strategy.

Openreach, the division of BT which owns and manages its broadband network, is thought to be worth around £20bn – double the value of its parent – thereby raising the prospect of a buyer asset stripping the company.

Other potential buyers, according to MailOnline, are thought to include BT shareholder Deutsche Telekom, while Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has been building a stake in BT this year.

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