BT’s Philip Jansen said he was ‘open minded’ about the idea of a sale once the fibre regulatory framework was agreed in 2021
BT’s CEO Philip Jansen has claimed to be ‘open minded’ about the prospect of selling a stake in the company’s giant infrastructure unit Openreach, but only once the company has received clarity on the fibre regulatory framework next year.
"Would I be open minded about looking at a minority interest on it, moving that on to someone else? Potentially. But I can’t see us doing that until well after we’ve agreed the regulatory framework, until March, April next year," said Jansen at a Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media and Telecom conference yesterday.
Ofcom is currently working to decide exactly how much of a return BT will be allowed to make from its planned £12 billion fibre-to-the-premises buildout, with a decision expected in March or April next year.
Jansen argued that Openreach was an undervalued asset, which was not adequately reflected in the company’s share price.
“I feel that BT is undervalued for the kind of business that we are and the assets we have,” he said.
BT’s share price has been slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, falling to an 11-year low earlier this year. Rival’s like CK Hutchison, which own the UK’s Three brand, have been raising funds recently through infrastructure sales of their own. CK Hutchison recently agreed to sell their European tower infrastructure to Spanish giant Cellnex for $12 billion.
But Jansen was less optimistic about pursuing such a strategy with BT.
"There are things that we can consider but we are not really interested in sale and leaseback," he said on the call.
Ultimately, BT seems unlikely to sell its stake in Openreach unless the stars align, with Jansen admitting that some control of the unit was strategically vital.
“Openreach being part of BT is the right thing for it to be,” he said.
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