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BT to split

British Telethon pawns off wireless biz

BT confirmed today it will split itself up, spinning off its wireless businesses as a separate company called BT Wireless, while other operations continue as BT Future.

The company hopes to raise £5.9bn offering discounted shares to current stockholders to finance the restructuring.

Christopher Bland, who took over as BT's chairman on 1 May, said he joined the company with a view to overseeing its break up.

"It was only on the basis I was totally committed to today's decisions, and would be both responsible for delivering them and announcing them, that I joined BT," he said.

Bland will, he says, put his money where his mouth is. "I also suggested that I invest £1m of my own money," Bland said, adding that he had that commitment written into his employment contract. "And I intend to do that."

Yell, the company's Yellow Pages directory operations, will also be sold or euphemistically 'demerged', BT said. Along with recent agreements to sell holdings in Japan, Malaysia and Spain, the spin-offs represent "good progress" in debt reduction, the company said.

BT has come under increasing pressure to reduce its massive debt, largely incurred in moves to expand the company's wireless operations and buy licenses for 3G (third-generation) networks.


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