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Can BT finally come good?

Is a venerable but slightly weather-worn flagship about to get a new captain?
Can BT finally come good?

Regular followers of BT (BT.) since the company’s market debut in the 1980s will know the feeling of exhilaration when the telecoms giant looks as though it isabout to deliver the returns that its size and market power would deem to be its divine right. Any investor experiencing such euphoria must exercise caution as, with equally wearisome regularity, there arrives the mirror feeling of dejection and disappointment when the company’s management forms a circle, aims a metaphorical pistol at its collective foot and merrily pulls the trigger.

Tip style
Value
Risk rating
Medium
Timescale
Medium Term
Bull points
  • Activist investor lockout about to expire
  • Pension deficit looks under control
  • BT gets a decent fibre deal from Ofcom
Bear points
  • Large parts of the company may have limited residual value

Fundamentally, at the heart of BT’s story over the past 20 years, or so, is the sense that anyone other than whichever board is in place at the time could run the company more effectively. Intriguingly, there is a realistic prospect that investors may finally get to see if someone else can do a better job when the bid lockout clause expires in December for Patrick Drahi’s Altice.

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