Thursday, July 25, 2024

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim takes 3% stake in BT

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Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has taken a 3 per cent stake in BT after its new chief executive Allison Kirkby unveiled her plans to turn around the UK telecoms group at its annual results last month.

The FTSE 100 company on Wednesday announced the position of a company controlled by the family of the tycoon. Slim’s motive is unclear but he joins other high-profile telecoms shareholders, including billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Altice and German group Deutsche Telekom.

BT said in a separate statement that “we welcome any investor who recognises the long-term value of our business”, and “look forward to engaging with Inbursa, just as we do with all investors”.

A representative for Slim’s companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kirkby, who took over as chief executive in February, said last month that BT would cut another £3bn of costs and increase its dividend after announcing the group had hit an original £3bn target for gross annualised cost savings a year ahead of schedule.

She added the group had passed peak capital expenditure on its rollout of full-fibre broadband and was “exploring options to optimise our global business”, including exiting some markets.

Shares on the day climbed more than 17 per cent. Investors had previously placed a record £300mn bet against BT and Kirkby said: “I always love to squeeze the shorts . . . and prove them wrong.”

América Móvil, the telecoms group controlled by Slim and his family, has in the past acquired stakes in European telecoms groups KPN and Telekom Austria. In 2013 it was forced to retreat in a gruelling €7.2bn takeover battle for the Dutch company after a poison pill defence. Slim in 2007 was also rebuffed in an attempt to buy Telecom Italia with US group AT&T.

More to follow . . .

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