BT has signed a definitive agreement with GS Capital Partners 2000, an investment partnership affiliated with Goldman Sachs, to sell its entire shareholding in Eutelsat for a price of £363 million in cash.
The transaction is conditional only upon the approval of the Board of Eutelsat and is expected to complete in the current financial year.
The move is part of the company’s philosophy to divest itself of its non-core businesses.
In a separate move, the company said that it was accelerating the rollout of its wholesale symmetric broadband (SDSL) services, with a further 1,000 exchanges to be upgraded for SDSL in a 12 month programme from April 2005.
Bruce Stanford, products director for BT Wholesale, said: “This will bring 512Kb/s SDSL within reach of more than two thirds of UK businesses.”
The details of the 12 month upgrade programme will be revealed in two phases with the first 500 exchanges announced at the end of January and the next 500 in August 2005. Feedback received from service providers before the end of June 2005 on where they have customer demand for SDSL will be considered when confirming which areas will be included in the 1,000 exchange rollout.
Under the existing deployment plan BT Wholesale will have SDSL service available from 224 exchanges at the end of November 2004 rising to 300 by the end of March 2005.
BT Wholesale’s BT IPStream Symmetric and BT DataStream Symmetric products give the same rate of data transfer upstream as downstream and are sold on a wholesale basis to service providers who retail SDSL services to SMEs and other end users.