Altice reportedly eyeing sale of Portugal cable network

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Altice Europe is looking to offload a stake in its high-speed fibre network, according to reports, just months after it sold its wholesale voice arm to Tofane Global.

Reuters is reporting that debt-ridden Altice is planning to launch an auction to sell off a stake in its Portuguese fibre assets similar to its sale of a 49.99% stake in SFR FTTH in France. That deal raised €1.8 billion in funds for the company, with the three buyers named as private equity investors, Allianz Capital Partners, AXA Investment Managers and Omers Infrastructure.

Altice bought Portugal Telecom in 2015, giving it ownership of the country’s largest landline operator, MEO, in a deal worth €7.4 billion. It has 759,000 fibre and cable subscribers in Portugal.

The Reuters sources has identified a number of potential bidders for the assets, including KKR and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, with Altice hiring Lazard to find potential bidders. Other companies named as potential bidders include the Macquarie Group, Ardian, and I Squared Capital (ISQ), the owner of HGC Global Communications. ISQ was reportedly a bidder when Altice sold off SFR FTTH, and the firm has also been mentioned as a potential bidder for both Reliance Communications/ Global Cloud Xchange and Zayo.

It is the latest move from Altice to lighten its debts, with the company having announced a spin-off of its US arm at the beginning of 2019.

It also offloaded its wholesale voice unit, which was originally part of SFR, to Tofane Global – a company launched by former Orange International Carriers chief Alexandre Pébereau, which is also on the cusp of completing a deal for KPN’s iBasis. The wholesale arm covers France, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic, though no fee was disclosed for the agreement.

It has also sold a 75 per cent stake in a towers company it set up in Portugal, again with similar moves made elsewhere across the Altice footprint. Altice declined to comment to Reuters for this story.