Who’s Patrick Drahi, the billionaire who has turn out to be BT’s largest investor? | Telecommunications trade

Patrick Drahi has constructed a $12bn fortune making shrewd bets in telecoms, his newest being the shock transfer to turn out to be BT’s largest shareholder. However it was the artwork lover’s deal to take over Sotheby’s that put him within the media highlight.

Drahi, the proprietor of works by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, paid an eye-watering $3.7bn in 2019 for the underperforming public sale home, explaining the acquisition as an “funding for my household”.

The shock transfer away from a long time of offers within the telecoms and media sector, which many felt was a part of his plan to construct a legacy, prompted the entrepreneur to comment that he remained “100% dedicated” to his core enterprise. The 57-year-old’s sudden £2.2bn share swoop on BT, opportunistically timed as the corporate’s inventory is seen by many to be good worth with a 5G and full fibre-broadband future in sight, is proof of that.

Born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1963 to 2 maths academics, Drahi moved to France as a teen and holds Israeli, French and Portuguese citizenships. He lives in Switzerland, the place he has properties in Geneva and the ski resort of Zermatt.

Drahi attended the École Polytechnique in Paris, the French college famed for turning out the nation’s most profitable enterprise leaders and politicians. After working for quite a few cable and satellite tv for pc TV corporations he co-founded two of his personal within the south of France within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. The companies did effectively sufficient to catch the attention of the “cable cowboy”, John Malone’s UPC, now the Virgin Media-owner Liberty World, in a share deal buyout from which Drahi finally made €40m.

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In 2001 he arrange Altice, which has grown aggressively with debt-fuelled acquisitions to construct operations spanning France, the US, Portugal and Israel. Notable offers embody SFR, France’s second-largest cellular and web supplier, from Vivendi in 2013. Earlier this 12 months the Amsterdam-listed Altice Europe, dwelling to SFR and Drahi’s different operations on the continent, was taken non-public.

Drahi additionally spent $27bn on the US cable corporations Suddenlink Communications and Cablevision in 2015. The companies have been spun off into a brand new firm, Altice USA, which additionally contains media property similar to Cheddar, the digital-first millennial information website acquired in 2019 for $200m.

Drahi, whose hobbies embody the humanities, portray, classical music, snowboarding, biking and strolling, has 4 youngsters along with his Syrian Greek Orthodox spouse. Forbes estimates his internet value at $12.2bn.

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