French telco giant Orange has announced that it will sell its remaining 2.5% in British Telecom (BT).
The 248mn shares, which Reuters said hold a total value of over US$600mn (c.£493mn), will be sold through a private placement via an accelerated book building offering.
BT plans to purchase around £80mn’s worth of Orange’s shares, according to Orange’s press release.
Orange’s stake in BT was acquired when BT bought EE, formerly a JV between Orange and Deutsche Telekom, in 2016.
The sale of EE also saw Deutsche Telekom acquire a 12% stake in BT to become the firm’s largest stakeholder.
According to Reuters, analysts at Jefferies said in a note to investors that the sale is emblematic of Orange’s lack of interest in using its stake in BT to develop a strategic partnership with the company.
"Orange argues that it had no 'strategic objective' related to its BT stake and wished to sell out ahead of seasonally lower trading liquidity in the summer,” they reportedly said.
Under new CEO Philip Jansen, BT is undergoing a significant operational overhaul in a bid to tackle historic criticism of BT’s fibre broadband capabilities and the strength of its IT services business.