Billionaire Patrick Drahi said that his debt-laden telecommunications empire Altice would unveil different options for de-leveraging in the coming days, including an “equity raise and partnerships with different players.”
(Bloomberg) — Billionaire Patrick Drahi said that his debt-laden telecommunications empire Altice would unveil different options for de-leveraging in the coming days, including an “equity raise and partnerships with different players.”
The French-Israeli tycoon was speaking to investors at a non-deal roadshow in London on Wednesday, after a summer wrestling with the fallout from a criminal corruption probe in Portugal targeting key figures connected to Altice.
Drahi said that advisers had been hired to review every silo, including Altice France, Altice International and its subsidiaries in Portugal, the Dominican Republic and ad-tech company Teads, according to an unofficial transcript of the event seen by Bloomberg. An Altice spokesperson confirmed the accuracy of the transcript.
Separately on Wednesday, French newspaper Les Echos reported that Altice is in advanced negotiations to sell its 92 data centers in France to a Morgan Stanley infrastructure fund, in a deal that would be valued at about €1 billion ($1.1 billion).
A spokesperson for Altice wasn’t immediately available for comment, and a spokesperson for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
During the London meeting, Drahi reiterated that Altice France wants to improve cash flow by €1 billion ($1.1 billion) by or before 2027 using a combination of lower costs, lower spending and perhaps higher prices.
Read More: The Corruption Probe Rocking Altice Tycoon’s Empire
The potential for Altice-owned carrier SFR to participate in the consolidation of the French telecom market depends on how EU regulators treat a proposed joint venture between Orange SA and Masmovil Ibercom SA, Drahi said.
The event featuring Drahi and other executives — including the head of Altice Portugal, Ana Figueiredo, the chief executive of French carrier SFR, Mathieu Cocq, and the group’s Chief Financial Officer Malo Corbin — was organized by Goldman Sachs.
When asked if he might sell Altice France and leave the country, Drahi answered with a joke. “Is out of France an option? I’m in England today, tomorrow the US, and next week I’m in Israel. Yes.” The billionaire is expected to answer questions from investors about Altice USA in New York on Thursday.
Drahi is seeking to reassure investors after Portuguese authorities announced a criminal investigation into corruption, tax fraud and money laundering in July that has led to the house arrest of his right-hand man Armando Pereira and the suspension of about 15 Altice employees and dozens of suppliers.
Asked about the Portuguese probe, Drahi reiterated that the probe did not target the company itself, but certain ex-employees who have allegedly misbehaved.
–With assistance from Libby Cherry.
(Updates with Les Echos report on talks to sell data centers in the fourth paragraph.)
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