Feb 8, 2018

Opening Quote: Debt, dividends, strategy... we need to TalkTalk

TalkTalk executive chairman Sir Charles Dunstone would appear to have come round to Oscar Wilde's way of thinking: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about". Last week, analysts at Exane BNP Paribas said TalkTalk would struggle to compete for broadband customers at the value end of the market. TalkTalk has said it needs to undertake an equity placing to raise up to £200m. To counter the inevitable negative whispering, Sir Charles and other directors will participate in the placing and contribute up to £40m of their own money. TalkTalk will use the proceeds to strengthen the balance sheet, and invest in long-term fibre-to-the-home plans. Finally, TalkTalk would like the big talking point to be its new discussions with Infracapital - the infrastructure equity investment arm of M&G Prudential - to provide full fibre roll out across the UK. They have agreed to create an independent company, with Infracapital funding 80 per cent and TalkTalk 20 per cent, to invest up to £500m to provide full fibre to more than 3 million homes and businesses in mid-sized towns and cities in the UK. TalkTalk will be be a founding wholesale customer of the new company, providing a minimum volume commitment.

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