BT to raise £2bn in property sell -off

Broadband future safe, we're assured

BT has given assurances that its plan to realise the assets of its properties will not hit the roll-out of broadband services in Britain.

Earlier today it announced it is to divest its massive property portfolio in a bid to raise £2 billion, further evidence that BT is raiding the piggy bank to reduce its debt burden.

The plan - common among many companies - is to sell long-term leases on its properties before renting them back on short-term leases.

While BT retains the freehold on all its properties, it does mean it can be more flexible if its property requirements change. The fear, is that divestment will make it easier for BT to reduce the space it has for, other operators to install their kit in BT's local exchanges.

Telecoms regulator, Oftel, responded quickly to BT's announcement demanding assurances that the "planned disposals do not affect BT's ability to meet its licence and other obligations, including those relating to provision of the universal telephone service and local loop unbundling".

David Edmonds, head of Oftel, said: "Oftel will seek full information from BT about the details of the disposals and the leasing arrangements. I know that BT is also fully aware of these obligations and the need to retain control of its operational buildings such as telephone exchanges."

A spokesman for BT told The Register: "This will not affect local loop unbundling in any way."

BT's estate consists of some 7,500 properties covering six million square metres of space. Seventy per cent of these are operational buildings for which BT will retain the freehold and exclusive control, the monster telco said. ®

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