The agreements of BT and Newport Wafer Fab have been reviewed under the new UK safety act

Altice founder Patrick Drahi, left, and co-founder Armando Pereira pose for photos outside the New York Stock Exchange, ahead of the company’s IPO on Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Richard drew | AP

The UK has launched investigations into two major technology deals under its new National Security and Investment Act as it moves to protect its most valuable technology assets from foreign takeovers.

In a note to shareholders on Thursday, BT announced that UK affairs secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is “recalling” his deal Alticeowned by the telecommunications tycoon Patrizio Drahi. BT said it intends to “cooperate fully” with the review.

the deal, revealed in Decemberwould see the French multinational increase its stake in the BT Group from 12.1% to 18%.

BT’s share price fell more than 4% during morning trading on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday.

The National Security and Investment Act went into effect on 4 January, giving the UK government the power to monitor and intervene in trade deals that can potentially threaten national security.

British icon

Tracing its origins to the founding of the world’s first public telegraph company in 1846, BT is a British icon. The company was previously state-owned but was privatized by the end of the 20th century.

In recent years, it has struggled to convince investors of its vision to upgrade the nation’s network infrastructure and become a key player in the next generation 5G mobile internet. The company’s stock has plummeted 42% over the past five years.

Altice was founded by Drahi in 2001. A prolific trader, he made a name for himself by acquiring a slew of mobile and cable companies in Europe and the United States. The billionaire entrepreneur was born in Morocco but emigrated to France as a teenager. He has a net worth of $ 6.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Welsh chipmaker

The BT probe comes in the wake of another investigation.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Kwarteng announced on Twitter that he would be looking into Nexperia’s acquisition of Welsh semiconductor company Newport Wafer Fab. The Dutch company Nexperia is 100% owned by the Chinese electronics manufacturer Wingtech.

Semiconductors are a key technology behind today’s global economy. Countries have realized their importance in the past two years after a chip shortage devastated a wide range of industries.

The government has 30 business days (extendable to an additional 45 business days) to carry out the assessments.

In recent years, the UK has allowed some of its largest tech companies to be acquired by overseas buyers, leading to concerns of “technology sovereignty”.

Cambridge chip designers Arm was sold to Japanese tech giant SoftBank in 2016 for $ 32 billion, while the London-based artificial intelligence laboratory DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014 for about 600 million dollars.