The billionaire entrepreneur Sir Charles Dunstone has taken advantage of a slide in the share price of TalkTalk by topping up his stake to cement his status as the company’s biggest investor.
Sky News has learnt that Sir Charles, who was reinstated to an executive role last year, used an 11% slump in TalkTalk shares on Friday to mop up another £750,000-worth of stock, according to a person close to the company.
The move, which inches Sir Charles’s shareholding slightly further above 28.5%, will be announced to the stock market on Monday morning.
One insider said it reflected the TalkTalk founder’s belief that the company is undervalued, but added that it was not the prelude to a bid to take the company private.
Stock exchange rules make a full takeover offer mandatory when a shareholder increases their stake above 29.9%.
The fall in TalkTalk’s shares on Friday was triggered by an announcement that an agreement to sell part of its business-to-business customer base to Daisy for £180m had been abandoned.
That decision was related to Daisy’s need to finance a wider deal involving its founder, Matt Riley, buying the stakes of independent shareholders, sources said.
At one stage on Friday, TalkTalk shares were down 11%, although they recovered to end the session just 2.5% lower.
Nevertheless, the broadband and mobile communications operator has seen its valuation slump by more than 40% during the last 12 months, leaving it with a market capitalisation of just £1.2bn.
Sir Charles founded TalkTalk in 2004 as an operation within Carphone Warehouse, the mobile phone retailer he co-founded.
TalkTalk was then demerged into a separately listed company in 2010.
Sir Charles, who also owns a big stake in what is now Dixons Carphone, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.