Orange sells remaining 2.5% stake in BT for $616 million

Telecom operator Orange said it sold its remaining 2.5 percent stake in BT Group, raising net proceeds of 486 million pounds or $616 million.
Orange for mobile phone users
BT Group, a leading telecom operator in the U.K., purchased 41 million shares in the private placement of France Telecom’s 248 million shares.

Orange, based in France, ended up with a 4 percent BT stake in 2014 when the British group bought mobile operator EE, a joint venture between the French company and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.

Deutsche Telekom is BT’s largest shareholder with a stake of about 12 percent. Deutsche Telekom is also the largest shareholder in T-Mobile US, the third largest telecom operator in the U.S.

“Orange argues that it had no ‘strategic objective’ related to its BT stake and wished to sell out ahead of seasonally lower trading liquidity in the summer,” analysts at Jefferies said in a note to investors.

Meanwhile, BT Group, under its new CEO Philip Jansen, undergoes a major restructuring to improve financials. This overhaul includes 13,000 job cuts and is aimed at tackling problems ranging from criticism of BT’s fiber broadband to an underperforming IT services business.