back to article UK government reviewing stake in BT owned by French tycoon Patrick Drahi

The UK government has kicked off a national security assessment on the investment in BT by French telco tycoon Patrick Drahi, who via his Altice UK organisation topped up his stake to 18 percent late last year. Announced today, the probe is understood to be one of the first such uses of new powers the UK government granted …

  1. VoiceOfTruth

    The British poodle

    Would the government kick up a stick if it was an American individual who bought this stake? Good boy, here's another bone.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: The British poodle

      "Competition and Markets Authority did apparently contribute to the subsequent sale of Arm to US-based Nvidia being knocked on the head"

      Seems they did In the case of the American company Nvidia.

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: The British poodle

      Look at what happened to Cobham, bought by a US outfit and now at the mercy of some venture capital group this is busily engaged in breaking it up in to pieces and selling them "to realise their investment".

      In real world speak, get rid of the IP and any assets, siphon all the money out, load it with debt and cast the resulting inviable mess to the wolves.

      For far too long the UK has just let some fantastically successful companies be bought and destroyed.

      Cadbury

      Arm

      Cobham

      The energy supply companies

      BNFL Nuclear (I think that is what they were)

      The list goes on......

      1. Mike Richards

        Re: The British poodle

        Foreign companies will also be allowed to bid for Channel 4 in the current proposal to privatise a wildly successful, but far too independent, broadcaster.

  2. Oh Matron!

    Obviously not a Tory donor, Drahi...

    That is all.

    1. JDPower666 Bronze badge

      Re: Obviously not a Tory donor, Drahi...

      I'm sure that will now be rectified.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um...

    If the government actually gave a s*** why put it on the stock market for anyone in the world to buy?

    [Am I being cynical. Perhaps. Perhaps not. The phrase Critical Infrastructure pops to mind]

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Um...

      There is a policy position somewhere between state ownership and owned by nasty old foreigners you know.

      Also, this government didn't put it on the stock market, it was already there when they came to power. So again, there is a perfectly reasonable policy position between giving somewhat of a shit who owns it, without wanting to control it through government.

      Personally I quite like the compromise of saying some companies run important infrastructure, so they can be on the stock market, but can't be controlled by anywone without approval - and are also highly regulated.

      The water companies for example did a lot more dumping of raw sewage when they were owned by the government. Because the government was both in charge of regulating them, and in charge of providing the money for better sewage treatment. Hence it went easy on regulating them, as the cheaper choice. Now the government has more of an incentive to regulate them properly, because the Treasury don't have to stump up the cash - which they might rather spend on popular things like tax cuts or NHS spending.

      1. fwthinks
        FAIL

        Re: Um...

        Just to clarify - British Telecommunications was privatised in 1984 by the Conservative Party.

        In general, the Conservative party (over a number of years/governments) have has a policy to privatise utilities. My guess would be for the following key reasons

        1 - Free money - they get lots of money without having to raise taxes

        2 - Unions - they can avoid getting involved in industrial action by saying that the companies are private and nothing to do with them.

        all well and good - but if you don't regulate properly then eventually you will be up a creek without a paddle. Unfortunately for the country, the Conservatives are also big fans of light touch regulation.Which shows that you can't have your (privatisation) cake and eat it too.

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: Um...

      They don't, but in my (admittedly simplistic) view, they've done it previously because these sales generate money. More money = tax cuts. Lower tax = more votes.

      Of course now, it seems to be more money = more money for our mates and raise taxes.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe he can sell his stake to a Russian with party* connections

    *Tory party, not garden party.

  5. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

    Is it perhaps too much to ask that the Conservative Party should be next in line for such an investigation? I'd be quite interested to know just how much of that is foreign owned.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nadine will save us!

    Does this come under her remit? A couple of breakfast gins and some antipodean delicacies will help her prepare and sharpen up, if so.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Nadine will save us!

      You say breakfast gin like it's a bad thing?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the water / energy companies???

    I don't understand why the cretins are getting bent out of shape over Bastard Telecom when the major utilities are already owned by "forrin peeps"

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: What about the water / energy companies???

      If the foreigners own a bunch of your power plants and start messing around, then you send in the police to sieze them. Woohoo! Free nationalisation! And company have lost all their investment. Most of the workers aren't local, this would be pretty easy to do.

      If the nasty foreigners own your major telecoms network, they might start spying on it. And if they don't have to disrupt things and risk their investment in order to gain advantage. Traditionally spying on other peoples' communications has been what we do to foreigners. And after all, everyone knows you can't trust the French...

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: What about the water / energy companies???

      Maybe something to do with:

      Stable

      Horses

      Bolting

      Shutting

      They have finally woken up about 20 years too late.

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