Altice Plans to Spin Off US Business

10 January, 2018, 02:04 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • AP Images
Altice founder Patrick Drahi

A US$2bn share repurchase has also been agreed by Altice USA's board of directors.

European telecom company Altice N.V., said late Monday it plans to separate its US cable operation - Altice USA - from the parent company in a transaction that it says will allow each business to focus on value creation in their respective markets and ensure greater transparency for investors. Both companies will have new management.

"We're very focused on the operating story, specifically in France and Portugal", Goei told reporters during a call.

Altice USA (NYSE:ATUS) is up 13.8% premarket on NYSE after word that Dutch parent Altice (OTCPK:ATCEY) would spin off its US unit to existing investors in order to prioritize a turnaround in Europe.

Drahi will own 52 percent of Altice Europe and 43 percent of Altice USA.

This led to the ousting of Altice's chief executive, a rare apology by Drahi to investors at a conference previous year and the promise that Altice, whose debt equals more than twice its yearly revenues, would shift focus from large acquisitions to sales growth and debt management. The stock finished down about 1% (15 cents) to $21.09 per share.

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Analysts at brokerage Raymond James said Altice's European arm could become an acquisition target for rival French telecoms companies.

"A separate listing of Altice Europe makes a sale of this asset easier, to Bouygues (BOUY.PA) or Iliad (ILD.PA) for instance, which could both consider market consolidation synergies in France, in our view", they wrote. That's a move that will help improve the European balance sheet and further placate investors.

"However, we doubt that the intention to sell is unlikely to be reached in the medium-term, as this would require a material discount to the price paid for these assets", it added.

Company founder Patrick Drahi will "retain control" of both companies through the firm Next2. Dexter Goei will continue in his role of Altice USA CEO and his current management team will remain unchanged, while Dennis Okhuijsen will head up Altice Europe.

The dividend to be paid to Altice Europe will add to Altice USA's net debt, which was approximately US$21.2 billion at the end of the third quarter of previous year.

In advance of the spinoff, Altice USA approved a $1.5 billion cash dividend to all Altice USA shareholders immediately prior to completion of the separation it aims to complete by the end of the second quarter, funded by debt secured by Optimum.

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