Computacenter looking to buy a nice little place in France, by which we mean most of BT's French network real estate

Brit telco and reseller giant in talks... presumably over a very long desk

London-listed tech reseller Computacenter has confirmed it's in talks to hoover up the lion share of BT's French domestic operations.

Although neither party has floated an asking price, BT's local business across the channel generated €118m in revenue during fiscal '19, primarily around the management of IT networks and professional services.

This move is part of BT's ongoing shape shifting, which has seen it offload areas deemed to be "non-core". The company is axing 13,000 jobs from its 100,000 workforce in a bid to save £1.5bn over three years and closing about 90 per cent of its offices across the UK.

In July last year, it sold its historic central London headquarters for £210m.

BT won't completely exit the French market. It'll still exist, albeit in a more limited form, where it'll sell cybersecurity services. It will also continue to maintain access points for its global network.

But the buy will allow Computacenter to deepen its involvement in the French market, where it turned over €644.7 million in calendar '19, up 14.1 per cent year-on-year. Adjusted profits were up 76.3 percent to €14.1m. In its 2019 financials, the supplier attributed this fortune to product reselling.

Should the thrashed out price meet the usual regulatory approval, BT and Computacenter will enter a partnership, hoping to offer continuity for existing customers, as well as various unspecified "growth opportunities."

In a statement, Bas Burger, CEO of Global at BT, said: "With this agreement we are close to reaching another milestone in the execution of our strategy to make BT Global a more agile business focused on the growing requirements of our multinational customers."

These days, BT is all about network provision and UK consumers.

Mike Norris, CEO of Computacenter Group, who last week told us about the current impact of the virus on its business, said in a prepared statement today that the buy "represents a small increase" in its French division.

"The current coronavirus pandemic shows the importance of secure and reliable networks to our customers and this deal would significantly strengthen our existing French business in this growth area. It would bring our customer offering in France closer to the broader portfolio in our larger European markets, providing a strong foundation for our continued long-term growth," he said.

The sale is expected to close in 2020, assuming it gets clearance from France's works council and is signed off by the French government, with all parties having to abide by new coronavirus restrictions. ®

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