Telecom giant BT Group will consider a joint venture with German sector peer Deutsche Telekom, the FTSE 100 group's chairman Sir Michael Rake said on 11 January.
The German company will become the London-listed group's largest shareholder in February, once BT completes the £12.5bn (€16.7bn, $18.2bn) takeover of mobile operator EE, which is co-owned by Deutsche Telekom and France-based Orange.
But Rake dismissed rumours that Deutsche Telekom could mount a takeover bid for BT after the deal for EE is completed. "We live in a global world and the UK is one of the most open economies in the world. But who knows?" he told the Financial Times. "There is no golden share and we will do the right thing by our shareholders. There is a three-year standstill. We will get on with integrating EE."
Rake, who said he hoped BT would "keep as much top-level management as we can" throughout the integration process for EE, also refused to rule out a bid for Channel 4, should plans to privatise the publicly owned broadcaster go ahead in 2017.
"We continue to look [at] what is out there," he added. "The company's covenant is much stronger than it was, our pension deficit is manageable, and we will be in a strong position to continue to look at the opportunities carefully."
FTSE 100-listed BT is close to complete plans to extend its fibre network, which will put it on track to meet the government's targets of covering 95% of the UK with super-fast broadband within the next 24 months.
However, Ofcom, the UK's telecoms watchdog, has launched a review of Britain's telecoms market that could see BT split from BT Openreach, the division that owns and operates the national fixed-line and broadband network.
Rake, who described the fibre network roll-out as one of the most pivotal moments for the company over the past decade, warned a split would have "huge practical issues" on the business.
Meanwhile, BT has named Clive Selley as the new Openreach chief executive. Selley, who currently holds the position of chief information officer and head of technology at the telecoms group, will take up his new role in the spring and will replace outgoing CEO Joe Garner, who will join Nationwide.
Despite moving to BT less than two years ago, Garner said the chance to join the building society was "too good to turn down".