Altice sells €1.8bn stake in French wholesale FTTH network

30 November 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Troubled company Altice Europe has sold a 49.99% stake in its French fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to raise €1.8 billion.

The unit, SFR FTTH, will pass one million homes by the year end and plans extensions to reach five million. “SFR FTTH is the largest alternative FTTH infrastructure wholesale operator in France,” said the company this morning.

The buyers are three private equity investors, Allianz Capital Partners, AXA Investment Managers and Omers Infrastructure.

Patrick Drahi, founder of Altice, who has been selling assets to pay of debts incurred in his expansion programme of a few years ago, said: “I am very pleased that three of the most renowned infrastructure investors in the world are becoming our partners and committing large resources to build the leading FTTH wholesaler in Europe.”

SFR FTTH said it “will sell wholesale services to all operators at the same terms and conditions including SFR as customer with no minimum volume commitments”.

Drahi’s Altice France “will sell technical services to SFR FTTH for the construction, the subscriber connection and the maintenance of its FTTH network”, the company added.

In order to contain the debt mountain Drahi decided early this year to split the group into separate US and European companies: Altice US mainly owns a group of cable operators.

Since then Altice Europe has raised €2.5 billion by selling a 49.99% interest in SFR’s tower operation in France to KKR and 75% of PT Portugal’s towers to a consortium including Morgan Stanley and Horizon Equity Partners. In July it sold Dominican Republic tower assets to Phoenix Tower International, in a deal which valued the business at $170 million.

And it has already sold its wholesale voice business, originally part of SFR, to Alexandre Pébereau’s Tofane Global. No price was put on that deal. Last year it sold a Swiss operation for €180 million. 

Drahi said about today’s SFR FTTH deal: “With this transformational transaction and the various tower sales and partnerships announced earlier this year, Altice Europe has been able to crystallise €8 billion of infrastructure value and obtain cash proceeds of €4 billion in total in a few months.”

He added: “Through these transactions, Altice France and Altice Europe will deleverage and will have access to new and cheaper liquidity to invest in its fibre infrastructure.”