Belfast Telegraph

BT weighs up sale of Irish unit in £400m deal, report claims

Telecoms giant BT
Telecoms giant BT

By Ellie Donnelly

BT is planning to exit the Irish market through a £400m sale of its BT Ireland unit, which provides services to corporate clients.

The company is understood to have invited bids as part of a wider exit from its global services international arm.

However, any possible sale would not include BT's operations in Northern Ireland, which are part of BT plc in the UK.

BT employs around 2,500 in Northern Ireland.

The company said: "BT is firmly committed to its presence in, and service of, every part of the UK - including Northern Ireland."

The mooted sale was first reported in the Daily Telegraph.

However, BT Ireland managing director Shay Walsh cast doubt on the story yesterday, telling people not to "believe everything you read, especially when there is no source quoted".

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BT Ireland said it would not comment "on rumour or speculation".

BT Ireland employs 608 people in the Republic, according to its most recently filed accounts for the 12 months to the end of March 2018.

It reported a profit of €34m (£29m) on revenue of €425m (£367m) for the period.

The Daily Telegraph reported that BT Ireland's underlying earnings of around €50m (£43m) could attract bids in the €350m (£302m) to €500m (£432m) range from private equity players, as well as from pension funds. BT Ireland operates in five cities in the Republic and has become synonymous with the Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, an event it has been a part of for 17 years.

The sale would break BT's almost 20-year tie with the Irish market, entered through a €2.58bn (£2.2bn) takeover of Esat Telecom in 2000.

In 2009, BT sold its Irish consumer and SME business to Vodafone.

The latest reported move from BT comes just months after Philip Jansen, ex-CEO of Worldpay, took over the reins at the group in February.

Belfast Telegraph