STOCK WATCH: Is shadowy French billionaire Patrick Drahi set to ring changes at Openreach?
Could a French telecoms billionaire be circling BT‘s Openreach arm? The mutter from the City gutter is that the secretive Patrick Drahi has set his sights on the division that maintains Britain’s telephone lines and internet cables.
Drahi, a powerful dealmaker, now resides in Switzerland but made his fortune in France building telecoms groups Altice.
The rumour claims that one of the Altice companies Drahi controls – perhaps Altice USA – has secured financial backing from heavyweight bankers at JP Morgan with a view to paying £20billion for the unit.
The mutter from the City is that the secretive Patrick Drahi has set his sights on Openreach
Both Altice Europe and Altice USA insisted there was no truth in the speculation. But City gossips claim Drahi could even be weighing a hostile approach if BT isn’t willing to negotiate.
Drahi, though, may have competition for Openreach. In May, reports suggested that Australian investment bank Macquarie was interested in Openreach as was Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.
This may all be music to investors’ ears as earlier this year BT was forced to cut its dividend for the first time since 1984.
BT last night declined to comment.
Shares in car insurer Hastings revved up last week after it emerged its top shareholder, South Africa’s Rand Merchant Holdings, had teamed up with Finnish insurer Sampo to make a takeover approach.
The duo are yet to table a formal offer, which has added further importance to Hastings’ first-half results on Wednesday. Scribblers at Peel Hunt have pencilled in a £58million pre-tax profit for the period, up by 26 per cent on last year, helped by lower claims as motorists drove less during lockdown.
A strong set of results could help Hastings rebuff any potential offer – or help it make a case for a decent price.
Investors in Britain’s biggest brickmaker will discover how tough business was during lockdown when it reports results for the first half- year on Thursday.
With work having ground to a halt at the height of the coronavirus outbreak, analysts expect a poor set of financial figures for Ibstock as a result.
And the lockdown could even push the firm to a first-half loss, they reckon. The key for the share price will be how the company thinks business will fare over the coming months.
Early signs of a robust recovery could lay the foundations for the share price to rebound.
Keep an eye on stock market minnow OKYO Pharma in the coming days.
The Mail on Sunday understands a well-respected healthcare executive is close to joining the company, which should help the group in its development of a blockbuster dry eye treatment.
The talk is that OKYO Pharma’s treatment could compete with the likes of Restasis, which is owned by drugs giant Allergan.
Last week, the company raised £3.5million by issuing convertible loan notes. OKYO Pharma’s shares closed at 14.75p after another strong week, but some reckon the shares can keep on climbing.