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15 May 2020 | 07:54

BT in talks to sell Openreach stake - report

(Sharecast News) - BT is in talks with potential bidders for a multibillion-pound stake in its Openreach infrastructure division, according to a report. Potential buyers include include Macquarie, the infrastructure focused Australian bank, and a sovereign wealth fund, the Financial Times said. Interested parties have held talks with BT in the past three weeks, the FT said.

BT shares rose 7.5% to 109.79p at 09:05 BST. Unlocking value in Openreach could be a way to revive BT's share price, which has fallen about 80% in the past five years.

Openreach, which maintains the UK's national telecoms network, could be valued at about £20bn - double BT's market value, people briefed on the talks told the FT.

A deal to sell a stake would free money for BT to pay for a £12bn plan to connect 20m homes to full fibre broadband by the end of the decade. Analysts have raised doubts about BT's ability to pay for the project. The company cancelled its annual dividend on 7 May for the first time since privatisation in 1984.

Openreach is a legally separated company within BT but it is fully owned by the former state monopoly. BT has considered spinning off its most profitable division before and has turned down approaches from financial investors.

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