BT might have found buyer for Irish business

News

BT is reportedly in discussions with London-based Mayfair Equity Partners to sell its corporate business in the Republic of Ireland.

The proposed deal, which could raise “more than £300 million”, was reported by Sky News.

BT announced it would sell the Irish business in April, with a price tag of €462 million (£418 million) bandied about and appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to handle the sale.

Potential buyers were thought to include Three, Vodafone  and Virgin, which all have Irish businesses.

At the time the sale was announced, BT Ireland employed some 650 staff in the Republic, mostly in Dublin (pictured), and had generated a pre-tax profit of €34 million on sales of €425 million the previous fiscal year.

Mayfair Equity Partners describes itself as providing, “buyout and growth capital to dynamic businesses in the [technology, media and telecoms] and consumer sectors”.

Reducing debt

Under the leadership of new CEO Philip Jansen, and Chair Jan de Plessis, BT is on a drive to divest non-core businesses and assets, and cut costs to pay off debts.

Last year its capital expenditure was £3.7 billion, with pre-tax profit of just £2.7 billion, but net debt rose by £1.3 billon to £11 billion.

Its value as a company has fallen by about 50% over the last five years and although this fall in value is echoed in many telcos across Europe, BT’s fall is sharper than the overall market.

Also, BT has until 2021 to set side £2 billon for its pension scheme after a new funding package was agreed last year, but at the same time needs to increase spending, as it is committed to connecting 15 million homes to fibre broadband by 2025 which estimates reckon will cost about £500 million – with the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pushing for even faster rollout.

Last week BT Global Services were reported to be looking to sell £100 million of assets in the Netherlands, in the form of cell towers and cabling.