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Latin America’s richest man takes £400m stake in BT

The Mexican magnate, who is worth $93bn, now owns a position worth around £400m in BT through the three companies he controls.
The Mexican magnate, who is worth $93bn, now owns a position worth around £400m in BT through the three companies he controls.

The richest man in Latin America, Carlos Slim, has taken a 3.2 per cent stake in BT, in what analysts have said is a surprise move that signals a vote of confidence in the British telecoms giant.

Mexican magnate Slim, who is worth $93bn, now owns a position worth around £400m in the FTSE 100 giant through his firm, Control Empresarial de Capitales SA de CV, BT said in a filing on Wednesday.

Telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore said the move is a “bolt out of the blue and one that underlines the confidence in BT’s strategy, growth plans under Kirkby’s stewardship”.

BT shares jumped 17 per cent last month after it upped its cash flow guidance and raised its dividend. The stock is up over 20 per cent in the past month although it is still down around 3.4 per cent over the past year.

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The move reflects the “good recent momentum” for BT, especially after new chief executive Alison Kirkby recently revealed a £3bn cost-saving initiative and a refocus of BT Business, said CCS Insight analyst Kester Mann.

He said Slim’s investment was “an endorsement” of the strategy update, which also focuses on monetising full fibre roll out and streamlining services.

Slim controls majority stakes in telecoms group American Movil, his holding company Grupo Carso and banking and insurance firm Inbursa. He joins French tycoon Patrick Drahi, who owns 24.5 per cent of BT’s stock via his Altice telecoms group, which is currently facing huge debts.

BT said: “We welcome any investor who recognises the long-term value of our business” and “look forward to engaging with Inbursa, just as we do with all investors”.

BT shares rose 1.1 per cent in trading on Wednesday, closing at 129.40p.

In its latest trading update, BT posted flat revenue at £20.8bn compared to £20.7bn in the year before, while profit before tax fell 31 per cent.

Slim could not be reached for comment.