Test for Act

Kwarteng likely to block Drahi raising stake in BT

BT is a vital provider of infrastructure (pic: Terry Murden)

Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to use new takeover rules to block any attempt by billionaire Patrick Drahi from acquiring telecoms giant BT, according to City sources. 

Mr Kwarteng is also likely to put a halt to further stake-building by the French-Israeli businessman and stop him from taking a seat on the board.  

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) ha already indicated that Mr Drahi’s 18% stake would be reviewed under the new National Security and Investment Act , which gives Ministers more powers to protect critical infrastructure.

Mr Drahi said in December that her had no intention of buying BT, but his European telecoms business Altice has become the single biggest shareholder in the company and restrictions on him launching a bid are lifted from this week.

Any bid would be a test of the Act and the Government’s resolve to protect strategic companies from overseas predators.

BT owns Openreach and mobile network EE and provides vital service contracts across a number of government departments.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Altice is “fully supportive” of BT’s strategy.

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