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Telecoms firm's share price has collapsed from 400p levels in three years  
Thursday 12 Jul 2018 Author: Steven Frazer

A  series of share purchases in telecommunications services supplier TalkTalk (TALK) have led to intriguing buyout speculation.

Hedge fund Toscafund Asset Management upped its stake in TalkTalk from 15.1% to 16.2% in response to the company’s share price plunging to 105p, close to a five-year low. The shares have since risen to 119.2p.

Toscafund was already TalkTalk’s second largest shareholder and this latest deal takes its stake to just shy of 185.5m shares, worth approximately £222m.

Interestingly, on the same day that trade was struck (29 June) executive chairman and founder Sir Charles Dunstone, TalkTalk’s biggest single shareholder, also increased his personal stake in the business, adding a little more than half a million shares to take his holding to 28.5% of the company.

That’s just shy of the 30% cap at which point he would be forced to launch a bid for the whole company.

Toscafund has a history of backing management-led buyouts in the telecoms space. In 2014 the hedge fund supported the £500m take-private deal for enterprise telco business Daisy. TalkTalk and Daisy recently pulled out of a deal that would have seen the TalkTalk sell its enterprise operation to Daisy.

With fellow TalkTalk founder David Ross still retaining an 11.6% stake in the business, it means that more than half of the company is in the hands of three investors who are very familiar with each other. (SF)

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