BT to decide Concert's fate

A report has claimed that BT will reach a decision regarding the break-up of the telecommunication carrier Concert...

A report has claimed that BT will reach a decision regarding the break-up of the telecommunication carrier Concert Communications, the company's joint venture with AT&T, within the next few weeks.

According to the Financial Times, BT chairman, Sir Christopher Bland, is reportedly determined to resolve the issue prior to the company finalising its plans for the spin-off of its wireless division. BT is expected to present its wireless plans to shareholders and analysts in early September.

Gerard Bithell, a spokesman for BT, said, "We are holding a shareholder meeting on 5 September to discuss our plans and present our prospectus for the demerger of BT Wireless. As for Concert, no time lines have been published for any plans. We are discussing [with AT&T] all possibilities for Concert, but I cannot comment on any details."

When asked about the prospect of dissolving Concert last month, a BT spokeswoman said, "the operational difficulties would mostly have to do with customers, as we would want to retain them. But I couldn't really say much more about what the difficulties would be as it would just be hypothetical at this point."

Concert currently has approximately 7,000 employees and turns over about $7bn (£4.9bn) in annual revenue. In April, AT&T said in its report for the first quarter of 2001 that Concert had lost $122m due to lower revenue, higher network costs and bad debt. Some reports have estimated that Concert is currently losing £20m each week.

In a recent internal accounting exercise, BT valued its 50% stake in Concert at £1.4bn.

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