Orange is selling down its stake in BT Group, a move that will reduce its exposure to the troubled UK telecoms group whose shares have dropped by almost a quarter this year.
Orange said on Monday it is selling a third of its stake in BT through a private placement of around 133m shares. The shares in BT are owned by Orange’s subsidiary Atlas Service Belgium and represent around 1.33 per cent of the share capital of BT. As part of the share placement, BT will acquire up to £200m in the placement with a 66.5m share order.
Orange was linked with an immediate disposal of its residual stake in BT in January when a lock up ended on the sale of its shares. However BT issued a profit warning in January due to an accounting scandal in Italy and falling demand in the public sector which hit its shares.
At the same time as the share sale, Orange will issue roughly £520m in convertible bonds due in 2021 that will be exchangeable into BT shares. This represents another third of Orange’s participation in BT and is designed for it to benefit if BT’s share recover.