BT takes full ownership of Viag with Telenor stake

British Telecommunications (BT) and Norway's Telenor have finalised a deal in which BT has agreed to buy Telenor's 10% stake in German mobile communications provider Viag Interkom AG, giving BT full ownership of the company.

          British Telecommunications (BT) and Norway's Telenor have finalised a deal in which BT has agreed to buy Telenor's 10% stake in German mobile communications provider Viag Interkom AG, giving BT full ownership of the company.

          BT will pay Telenor 1.61 billion Euros ($US1.52 billion) for its Viag stake, BT says.

          Last August, BT acquired 45% of Viag Interkom from its former partner in the joint venture, E.ON, and in doing so doubled its stake in Viag Interkom to 90%. BT expects that deal to be finalised in the first half of 2001, the UK telecommunications company says.

          On December 6, BT also announced that it has extended its agreement with Telenor concerning BT's acquisition of the Irish telecommunications company Esat Telecom Group PLC. Under the new terms between BT and Telenor, the deadline by which Telenor has the right to exercise its Esat Digifone options was extended from December 7, 2000 to February 7, 2001, BT says. Esat Digifone is Esat's mobile phone division.

          BT and Telenor came to the options agreement in January of last year, after BT made a $US2.46 billion "white knight" bid for Ireland's second largest telecommunications company, outbidding Telenor's $US1.6 billion offer. The issue that remained unresolved between BT and Telenor was the Norwegian company's 49.5% ownership of Esat Digifone against BT's % stake. At the time, it was agreed that Telenor have the option to swap its stake in Esat Digifone for a 33% stake in Esat Telecom proper.

          According to the terms of the agreement, Telenor may also opt to sell its share in Esat Digifone back to BT for $US1.23 billion.

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