Drahi’s Altice moving ahead on Portugal fibre stake sale
Altice Europe is moving ahead with the planned sale of a stake in its fibre network in Portugal, according to 60% owner Patrick Drahi (pictured).
The highly indebted group – with €31 billion debt – first said it was looking to sell a stake in the business six months ago, following a similar sale of a 49.99% stake in its French fibre network for €1.8 billion in November 2018.
In a conference call with analysts and investors last night Drahi said the sale was progressing. “We are at the middle or close to the second part of the middle [of talks] with several groups on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said.
Drahi hinted that talks were not urgent, because the Portuguese business – formerly Telecom Portugal – has improved. Altice owns 100% of the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Portugal, with 3.8 million homes passed.
Revenue from the whole Portuguese business was €522 million in the first half of 2019, up 1.1% from €516 million for the same period last year. EBIDTA was €213 million, compared with €212 million in 2018.
“We’re growing the Portuguese business,” said Drahi, giving the company some leeway. “We would very much welcome investors if they meet our conditions.”
He did not name the potential investors that Altice Europe is talking to. Last year a consortium of three private equity investors, Allianz Capital Partners, AXA Investment Managers and Omers Infrastructure, bought the nearly-50% stake in Altice’s SFR FTTH unit in France, which it described at the time of the deal as “the largest alternative FTTH infrastructure wholesale operator in France”.
Meanwhile Altice USA, which was split from Altice Europe in 2018, also reported revenue growth. Second-quarter growth was 3.7% compared with the same period of 2018, reaching $2.45 billion. Residential revenue growth of the company, which includes a number of cable operators, was 3.4%, while business services revenue growth was 6.1%.
Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said: “As we look ahead, we remain hyper-focused on our key growth initiatives including the imminent launch of Altice Mobile and accelerated build out of our fibre network.”
The US company said its mobile launch is “on track for this summer”. It will be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), running on Sprint radio infrastructure, with Altice’s own core network and its own public Wifi.
“Altice Mobile will launch with its own SIM cards and has major mobile handset partnerships already in place,” said the company, and service “will be expanded to the New T-Mobile network, inclusive of 5G services” when the T-Mobile US/Sprint merger is complete.
Altice USA said it has signed “a complementary new nationwide roaming contract with AT&T, as well as new international roaming contracts with multiple partners, ensuring an aggregate 99% nationwide coverage and additional international coverage”.