BT sells Spanish assets to Portobello Capital in first international exit


LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s BT has sold its Spanish fiber networks and data centers to local private equity group Portobello Capital in the first step to sell some of its international infrastructure.

Britain’s biggest telecoms group indicated last year that it would start selling off some networks around the world and agree access deals so it can continue to support thousands of multi-national businesses through its Global division.

BT said on Monday it had struck a wholesale agreement with Portobello to maintain access to the network and support the around 600 major clients it has in Spain.

Assets in the transaction include an optical fiber network, city fiber networks in Barcelona and Madrid and three data centers. The sale will enable BT to focus on the provision of connectivity and digital solutions, it said.

“Today’s announcement is another key milestone in the execution of our strategy to make Global a more agile and customer-focused business,” said Bas Burger, chief executive of BT Global.

The Spanish unit generated around 230 million pounds ($295 million) of revenue in the 2018/19 financial year.

BT was rocked in 2017 when it discovered an accounting scandal at its Italian arm that wiped 8 billion pounds ($10 billion) off its market value at the time.

That prompted a re-evaluation of the business and chief executive, Philip Jansen, said earlier this year he was willing to make some divestments of infrastructure to create a more focused and higher margin business.

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Alistair Smout and Jason Neely