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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 07:02 GMT
BT fixed-line business 'not for sale'
Ben Verwaayen (left) with BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland
Ben Verwaayen (left) with BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland
The new chief executive of British Telecom, Ben Verwaayen, has said the company will not be selling its fixed line business, according to the Financial Times.

Mr Verwaayen, who officially takes up his new position on Friday, said such a move would make "no sense", the paper reported.

Last year, the German bank WestLB made an 18bn offer for the network, but this was rejected by BT.

In November last year BT floated off its wireless operations into a separate company MMO2.

Offers

Last summer WestLB approached BT with a sale and leaseback offer for the fixed-line network, which valued the business at 18bn.

The offer was rebuffed, but there were reports later in the year that WestLB might try again with a higher offer.

Also last year, a private equity group called Earthlease bid 8bn for part of the fixed-line network.

It was interested in buying the 'local loops' - the wires running from homes to the local telephone exchange.

But at a press conference in Munich Mr Verwaayen said the company was not interested in any offers for the network.

The decision was welcomed by telecoms analysts.

"The other (BT) businesses are not ready for BT to sell (its fixed-line business)," David Brundis, telecoms analyst at JP Morgan Chase told the FT.

"If you have a fledgling in the nest they need to learn to fly before they leave."

Mr Verwaayen said that BT would be looking to concentrate on its business to business services.

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