Altice decides not to sell its activities in Portugal-sources
(Updated with details, context)
LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – The Altice Europe group, founded and headed by businessman Patrick Drahi, has given up plans to sell its activities in Portugal after having received proposals considered sufficiently high by the investment fund shares, three sources told Reuters.
Altice was unable to agree in December on the valuation of these activities with the funds EQT and CVC Capital Partners, whose non-binding offers were well below the threshold of 7 billion euros set by Patrick Drahi to engage in negotiations, the sources said.
The highest indicative bid was just over €6 billion and included a premium based on Altice Portugal’s dominance in its market, one of the sources said.
The lack of real competition between suitors weighed on the talks, with most industrial players like Telefonica pulling out while private equity funds refused to engage in a one-upmanship for an asset that over the past years, partially divested its fiber network and other critical infrastructure, the sources said.
EQT and CVC declined to comment on the subject.
An Altice spokesperson said the group’s Portuguese assets “were not for sale and are not for sale”. Altice had already in the past denied any discussion of such a project.
Altice had appointed Lazard last year to test the market’s appetite for its activities in Portugal but the group, whose main operations are in France, has never launched a formal sale process, its expectations in terms of prices having immediately proved difficult to fill for most of the suitors.
The discussions were closed between the end of December and the beginning of January when the potential buyers were informed that the proposed sale was canceled “in the same informal way as it had been launched”, the first source said.
Via a new investment vehicle established in Great Britain, Altice increased its stake in BT in December to 18%.
“Altice needs to sell assets to focus more on other markets like Britain,” the same source said.
“The business has a set of assets that are constantly under review for possible disposal and the Portuguese unit was and still is part of that.” (Report Pamela Barbaglia in London and Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon, with the contribution of Mathieu Rosemain in Paris, Bertrand Boucey for the French version, edited by Nicolas Delame and Blandine Hénault)