Altice ‘interested in Charter takeover’ and ready to complete SFR deal

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Altice ups stake in SFR to 95.9% and plans squeeze-out of remaining shareholders as rumours mount of its interest in cable operator Charter

Altice appears to be preparing a bid of $185 billion or more for US cable operator Charter Communications, according to widespread reports.

At the same time the company has announced that it now owns more than 95% of French mobile operator SFR and will squeeze out minority shareholders next month.

Altice is already one of the biggest cable operators in the US, with Suddenlink and Optimum, which it bought it two transactions worth $26 billion in 2015.

Now, according to a variety of sources, including CNBC, the Financial Times and Reuters, Altice is joining the competition for Charter Communications. Sprint, controlled by SoftBank, was also named last week at having its sights on Charter. Verizon is understood to have looked at it last year.

CNBC points out that John Malone’s Liberty Media controls 20.5% of Charter’s equity and 25% of its voting shares, and either Patrick Drahi, head of Altice, or Masayoshi Son, head of SoftBank, would have to persuade him – and find the resources to buy the company at a cost said to be from $195 million to $200 million.

Meanwhile Altice is close to a resolution of its takeover of SFR, which began with the acquisition of 80% from Vivendi in November 2014 for €13.37 billion.

Altice has gradually increased its stake and announced this morning that it owns 95.9% of the share capital and voting rights of SFR Group.

That puts it above the 95% threshold that allows it to approach France’s Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF, financial markets authority) for approval to squeeze out the other shareholders. Altice has offered €34.50 a share – compared with SFR’s latest price of €31.45 – and hopes to complete the buy-out in September.