Altice ‘may sell SFR towers’ and says no to more acquisitions

Altice won’t making any more significant acquisitions, the company’s CFO has told an investment conference, and it may sell its mobile towers.

Instead the company, whose recent acquisitions include SFR in France, PT Telecom in Portugal, and cable operators Optimum and Suddenlink in the US, will focus on reducing its debt – now running at €49.6 billion.

CFO Dennis Okhuijsen told a conference run by Morgan Stanley that it will go “back to basics”. Altice’s shares have dropped about 50% since the start of this year.

Reuters quotes him as telling the conference: “We will be focused on deleveraging [reducing debt] by looking at the disposal on non-core assets,” and mentioned “potential tower sales”.

Patrick Drahi, the French billionaire who runs the group, told the same conference, in Barcelona, that Altice needs to rebuild consumer confidence.

Michel Combes, the former Vodafone and Alcatel-Lucent executive, resigned as CEO of SFR last week in the wake of worsening performance. It has lost 75,000 broadband customers in France.

Drahi also said that the plan to rebrand SFR to Altice, planned for early 2018, would be postponed as part of the drive to save money.