Leading shareholders in BT reportedly want the telco to resume talks with Earth Lease over the possible £8bn sale of the local loop, the 28 million copper and fibre lines connecting UK homes and business to telephone exchanges.
BT dismissed the bid earlier this week as vague and unattractive to shareholders. But two of the firm's 10 largest shareholders want to hear more about it, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The shareholders point out that BT makes virtually nothing from its local loop, and that £8bn would wipe out almost half of its remaining debts. They want the company to negotiate further with Earth Lease, a consortium of private investors backed by a syndicate of blue chip banks.
Earth Lease would reportedly commit £500m a year to improving line quality and reducing the wholesale charge of broadband ADSL technology. It apparently believes that, within 18 months, its lower wholesale prices could make ADSL packages cheap enough to attract two million users.
But BT has reiterated its view of the deal as unattractive. Commentators think it unlikely that the telco would sell off the heart of the UK's phone network to a third party, and thus encourage ADSL competition for its retail business.
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