BT Planning To Sell Irish Unit For £400m

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BT, the telecoms giant, is planning to auction off its Irish unit for approximately £400 million ($515.6 million) amidst the accounting scandal that was revealed in its Italian division.

The said move would mark a retreat from Ireland for the £22 billion group, which has operated in the area ever since 2001.

Last year, the 600-person Irish firm of BT, which mainly handles corporate customers, made a profit amounting to €34 million (£29 million) on sales of €425 million (£368 million).

In addition to its IT outsourcing, call-centre, and connectivity business in Ireland, BT also owns vast infrastructure assets in the country, including approximately 2,500km of fibre-optic cabling.

The possible sale of the unit was initially reported by the Telegraph. It will be handled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which is reportedly assessing the first-round bids already.

BT has not yet been able to offload the company’s scandal-plagued Italian division, whose irregularities in accounting have cost the firm hundreds of millions.

This week, prosecutors in Italy alleged that some senior executives at BT were involved in inflating the financial performance of the firm artificially.

Senior executives in the Global Services division of the company have already stepped down from their posts, and Gavin Patterson stepped down as its CEO last January amid the pressure about revenues.

As a result of the said scandal, BT has decided to concentrate on 800 of its largest corporate accounts and has moved to improve the profitability of the company by selling off its network assets across the globe.

Almost two decades ago, BT spent billions in the acquisition of Esat Telecom, a joint venture between Telenor, a Norwegian operator, and Denis O’Brien, an Irish entrepreneur.

In 2001, the mobile division of Esat Telecom formed part of BT’s stock market float of O2 and in 2009, BT sold off the rest of its consumer operations in Ireland to Vodafone.