France's Orange to cut stake in BT Group


UPDATE 1-France's Orange to cut stake in BT Group

(Adds detail, background)
    PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) - French telecoms company Orange
<ORAN.PA> plans to reduce its stake in British rival BT Group
<BT.L> from 4 percent to as little as 1.33 percent, it said on
    Shares in BT, Britain's biggest telecoms operator, have
underperformed those of its European peers of late, falling by
about 21 percent since the start of the year after an accounting
scandal in Italy forced the group to cut forecasts for the next
two years. [nL5N1FG37C]
    Orange said in a statement that it plans to initially lower
its BT stake to 2.66 percent by selling about 133 million shares
via a private placement.
    BT would buy up to 200 million pounds ($255 million) in the
placement, part of which would go to its employee share trust,
Orange said.
    At the same time the French group said it had launched an
offering of four-year bonds exchangeable for BT shares on
another third of its 4 percent stake in the British group.
    That offering  amounts to 520 million pounds, reflecting a
premium in the range of 35 to 40 percent above the share price
set via the initial private placement. If the bonds are fully
exercised, Orange's stake in BT would then decrease to 1.33
    The outcome of the placement and the issue price for the
bonds should be announced by Tuesday at the latest.
    BNP Paribas <BNPP.PA> and JPMorgan <JPM.N> are acting as
joint bookrunners on the transaction.
($1 = 0.7847 pounds)

 (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Edmund Blair and
David Goodman)
 ((Mathieu.Rosemain@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 4949 5182; Reuters
Messaging: mathieu.rosemain.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrosemain))


This article appears in: Fundamental Analysis , World Markets , Stocks , Economy , Bonds

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