BT Group Plc shares advanced as much as 9.5% following a report that India’s Reliance Industries is weighing up a possible offer for the U.K.’s biggest phone company.
Reliance could make an unsolicited offer to buy into the company or even stake a claim for a controlling stake with some strategic shareholders open to cashing out at the right price, according a report by The Economic Times, citing people familiar with the matter it didn’t name.
A BT spokesman declined to comment.
Read More: Reliance Weighs Bid for U.K.’s BT Group, Eco Times Reports
Separately, the Mail on Sunday reported private equity firms and investment funds are assessing BT’s infrastructure division Openreach at valuations as high as 40 billion pounds ($53 billion), citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. BT’s current market capitalization is 16.4 billion pounds.
The speculation follows Altice, led by billionaire Patrick Drahi, acquiring a 12.1% stake in BT in June. A lock-up preventing Drahi, BT’s biggest shareholder, from pursuing a takeover ends next month.
Takeover talk has increasingly surrounded BT in recent years. Last September the London-based carrier’s share price hit 11-year lows and that vulnerability had prompted the board to hire advisers. Private equity firms including CVC Capital Partners had studied the feasibility of a takeover, according to people familiar with the matter.
Reliance previously weighed a bid for a different European carrier, T-Mobile Netherlands, Bloomberg reported in August. That group was ultimately bought by private equity firms Warburg Pincus LLC and Apax Partners LLP.
(Updates with context from sixth paragraph)
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