Drahi’s Altice Europe bids for Israeli operator Partner Comm

Drahi’s Altice Europe bids for Israeli operator Partner Communications

29 January 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Altice Europe has confirmed that it wants to buy Israeli mobile operator Partner Communications, though it will not say for how much.

However Partner – which once traded as Orange Israel under a licensing deal with the Orange group – is valued at the equivalent of $809 million on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.

Altice said this morning that it “has submitted an offer” via its existing Israeli subsidiary Hot, which operates cable television and broadband communications in the country. Hot and Partner already have a network sharing agreement.

If the news leads to a deal, it will be a turnaround for Altice, led by Patrick Drahi (pictured), who last year was said to be thinking of divesting Hot from his portfolio. There were reports in March 2019 that Altice had hired Morgan Stanley to consider options for the unit – but Altice issued a stern denial. Altice completed the takeover of Hot in 2011.

This is the second deal for Altice Europe in the past three months. In November 2019 its SFR FTTH subsidiary in France agreed an exclusive position to buy Covage, a French fibre company, for €1 billion. The Covage deal will extend SFR FTTH’s reach from 5.4 million homes to 7.8 million.

At the same time, Altice is selling a 49% stake in its Portuguese fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to Morgan Stanley for $2.32 billion, in a deal announced in December 2019.