On 19 July 1982, the Government formally announced its intention to sell up to 50.2% of British Telecom to the public: the first example of the privatisation of a public utility.
The transfer to British Telecommunications plc from British Telecom as a statutory corporation of its business, its property, its rights and liabilities took place on 6 August 1984.
In November 1984 the Government offered 3,012 million ordinary shares for sale. When the offer closed on 28 November it had been oversubscribed by 3.2 times with shares being allocated to applicants on a pro rata basis. Shareholders fell into four groups: institutions taking up 47.4 per cent of the issue; the general public 34.3 per cent; British Telecom employees and pensioners 4.6 per cent; and buyers in the USA, Canada and Japan 13.7 per cent. Dealing in these shares began on 3 December 1984 simultaneously in London, New York and Toronto. The purchase price was 130p which was paid 50p on application and the rest to be paid in instalments later. The total amount raised was £3,916 million and nearly 96 per cent of eligible BT employees became shareholders in the company.
A second issue took place on 21 November 1991 which saw 1,598 million shares being sold, raising £5 billion for the Government.
A third issue followed in July 1993 with the Government selling off virtually all of its remaining shares for a further £5 billion.
In July 1997 the Government relinquished its Special Share, retained at the time of flotation which had allowed it to block a take-over of the company and appoint two non-executive directors to the board.
In 2001, BT Group was created following the demerger of BT Wireless - BT's mobile business, re-branded as mmO2 - from British Telecommunications plc on a one for one share basis. 16 November 2001 was the last day of trading in BT shares and, on 19 November, mmO2 plc and the new BT Group plc shares commenced trading separately. Shares in BT Group plc commenced trading on 19th November 2001.
The new company was structured so that BT Group plc provides a holding company for the separately managed businesses which make up the group. These were initally BT Retail (serving UK fixed-line customers), BT Wholesale ( running the UK network), BT Ignite (a data centric broadband IP business focused on corporate and wholesale markets in the UK and Europe) and BT Openworld (a mass-market internet access business focusing increasingly on broadband services). These businesses are supported by BT Exact (launched as BTexact technologies, April 2001), BT's research and development organization. These elements are part of British Telecommunications plc, which is owned by the BT Group plc.
BT Design and BT Operate formed in July 2007, combined to form BT Innovation & Design in 2009. Openreach was created January 2006.