One of Altice’s largest institutional investors cashed-in its shareholding due to concerns about the company’s $50 billion debt pile and future prospects of its SFR unit, Financial Times reported.
The newspaper said investor Carmignac Gestion – which picked up a stake in a 2014 Altice IPO and had accumulated a 3 per cent stake by September 2017 – sold out in November, a move which only just come to light.
Its sale came the same month Altice reported its debt pile stood at around $50 billion at end Q3 2017 and revealed the departure of CEO Michel Combes.
Financial Times sources said among the reasons for the sale was the threat of rising interest rates impacting the company’s huge debt level and the fading prospect of consolidation in the French operator market – in which Altice-owned SFR was tipped to play a part.
Since its Q3 results, the company worked on reducing its debt level stating it would dispose of non-core assets before mid 2018 and scale back its previously aggressive M&A activity, which is largely responsible for the accumulation of debt.
Altice’s Dominican Republic unit was rumoured to be first on the chopping block with speculation also surrounding the future of its subsidiary Portugal Telecom.
In January, it detailed plans to formally separate Altice USA – which was the subject of an IPO in 2017 – from its European arm as part of a plan to reorganise its business.
More details on the company’s progress and direction is expected alongside Altice’s Q4 2017 financial results, due for release on 15 March.