Altice Europe agreed to sell parts of its towers assets in France and Portugal for €2.5 billion, as the company continues to restructure its business following recent struggles.
The company, which runs mobile operator SFR in France, said it was putting 10,198 sites operated by its French division into a newly formed tower company (SFR TowerCo) and had (as expected) entered into an exclusive agreement with private equity group KKR to sell 49.99 per cent of equity in the new company. Altice Europe added the new tower company will have a total enterprise value of €3.6 billion.
In Portugal, Altice Europe reached an agreement with a consortium including Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners and Horizon Equity Partners for the sale of 75 per cent of the newly formed Towers of Portugal, comprising 2,961 sites currently used by its subsidiary PT Portugal. Towers of Portugal will have an enterprise value of around €660 million in total.
The move marks the latest assets disposal by Patrick Drahi, Altice’s founder, after the company fell on stony ground in 2017 following a poor performance in Europe in particular.
Altice Europe said the two transactions, once completed, would “generate significant proceeds for and underscore its commitment to deleveraging and balance sheet management”.
Drahi said he was “enthusiastic” about creating new tower partnerships: “Both tower businesses will be uniquely positioned to grow as they provide increasingly important infrastructure services to operators in both markets.”
Altice has amassed a huge debt pile in recent years following a period of aggressive M&A. Following a falling share price and diminishing investor confidence, the company in 2017 said it would begin disposing of non-core assets to help ease the situation by mid-2018, and scale back M&A activity.
The company spun off its US unit in January, but hit a fresh problem in February when one of its largest institutional investors cashed in its shareholding. The following month, the company entered into an agreement to sell its international voice business.