Deutsche Telekom CEO Sees Change at BT After Drahi’s Arrival

(Bloomberg) — Deutsche Telekom AG sees change coming at BT Group Plc after billionaire Patrick Drahi took its place as the biggest shareholder in Britain’s dominant phone company. 

“In the next 12 months something is going to happen there around this asset because the shareholder side is changing rapidly,” DT Chief Executive Officer Tim Hoettges said Tuesday on a conference call, referring to Drahi’s surprise purchase of 12.1% of BT in June. BT shares rose as much as 2.6% following the remarks. 

Altice has said it supports BT’s strategy and doesn’t plan to take over the entire company. That commitment expires in December, when new BT chairman Adam Crozier is due to take the reins.

Deutsche Telekom owns 12.06% of BT, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In an August investor call, Hoettges described himself as “kingmaker” in the situation. DT holds a BT board seat, while Altice hasn’t requested one. 

DT became BT’s largest shareholder after it sold its stake in mobile carrier EE to the London-based carrier in 2016, but its stake has fallen in value as BT was hit by Brexit, competition, regulation and revelations of an accounting scandal in Italy in 2017. 

Hoettges has been doubling down on DT’s fast-growing U.S. unit T-Mobile US Inc. On Tuesday the German company said it was selling its Dutch business and raising its stake in T-Mobile.   

“We are today in a listening mode, we are not in an acting mode,” Hoettges said in reference to BT. “We have a lot of optionalities now on the table in the BT business. We will do something which is a good deal.”

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