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BT to sell stake in Eutelsat

The British telecommunications giant is getting out of the satellite business, probably to concentrate on a new wave of communications businesses.

BT has announced will sell its stake in Eutelsat for 363 million pounds--about $687 million. The U.K. telecom giant will sell all its shares in the world's third-biggest satellite communications company, if the sale is approved by the board of Eutelsat. The deal is expected to be wrapped up before the end of the financial year.

The shares will be bought by GS Capital Partners 2000, an investment partnership affiliated with Goldman Sachs. BT has previously sold off its holdings in other satellite firms, including Inmarsat and Intelsat. BT is not the first telecom firm to bail out of Eutelsat. Telecom Italia sold its shares in the company in 2002, as did France Telecom early last year. BT's move is thought to be meant to concentrate on its 'new wave' communications businesses--it recently bought U.S. managed voice and data service provider Infonet to bolster its international presence.