BT buys Infonet in key global expansion move

BT aims to strengthen its position as a provider of IT and networking services

In a move to strengthen its position as a global provider of IT and networking services, BT Group PLC has agreed to buy U.S.-based Infonet Services Corp., the companies announced Monday.

Under the deal, which is still subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals, London-based BT will pay approximately $965 million to acquire Infonet of El Segundo, California. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2005, the companies said.

Infonet, with operations in more than 70 countries, is a provider of value-added global communication services, such as VPN (virtual private networks) and ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), to thousands of multinational companies, including Bayer AG, Nestlé SA and Hitachi Ltd.

The U.S. service provider's major shareholders are six network operators: the Netherlands' Koninklijke KPN NV, Switzerland's Swisscom AG, Spain's Telefónica SA, Australia's Telstra Corp. Ltd., Sweden-Finland's TeliaSonera AB and Japan's KDDI Corp. All have agreed to sell their stakes, according to a statement released by Swisscom.