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BT puts cable-making business on the block

Christopher Williams
BT Cables supplies Openreach among others - Bloomberg News

BT has put its cable-making arm up for sale in a sign of efforts to simplify and focus its business following a string of disasters.

It is understood that the investment bank Greenhill is handling a sale of BT Cables, a Manchester-based unit within BT Wholesale which supplies the company’s network subsidiary Openreach with fibre-optic and copper cables.

BT Cables also supplies connections used in the rail network for signalling, as well as customers around the world.

The business became part of BT only in 2012 when the telecoms giant bought it from administrators to ensure it could continue to acquire new cable to carry out superfast broadband upgrades.

B3 Industries, its previous owner, had collapsed with debts of more than £30m.

The financial picture has improved under BT. Sales have more than doubled since 2012 to more than £50m and BT Cables last year reported a profit of £4m.

According to City sources Greenhill has been touting BT Cables’ success to potential private equity buyers.

The sale is not financially significant to BT but is a signal of the company’s determination to focus more on its main businesses.


Last year the company was blindsided by a massive accounting fraud in its Italian business.

The scandal prompted a major internal review that is this year expected to lead to a string of asset disposals. BT is also looking at mergers of business units.

As well as BT Cables, the company is expected to offload overseas networks this year as it shifts its telecoms services for international corporate customers onto the internet. Some assets, such as BT Italia, may be offloaded for a nominal fee.

Other more valuable businesses such as BT’s Latin America unit could attract large prices if the company is able to disentangle them from complex international contracts.

A BT spokesman declined to comment.