Altice France agreed a €1.6 billion deal to sell its media business to billionaire and shipping tycoon Rodolphe Saade, as Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group continues a push to reduce its debt load.

The operator stated it will sell the media business to Saade’s shipping company CMA CGM and investment company Merit France, which will take an 80 per cent and 20 per cent stake, respectively.

Completion of the sale of Altice Media is subject to approval by employee representatives and regulators, and is expected to be cleared later this year. The unit operates a range of services, including national TV channels and radio stations.

Following years of embarking on an aggressive acquisition strategy, Drahi is looking to cut a debt pile which stands at more than €60 billion.

Along with the media unit sale, Altice is also attempting to offload its Portugal telecoms unit. stc is apparently leading the race to acquire the business, with Drahi seeking around €10 billion.

Paolo Pescatore, founder of PP Foresight said the Altice Media deal goes some way to satisfying shareholders, “but probably not enough”.

“All telecoms companies are struggling, which requires a very well thought out turnaround plan. Convincing them will be no easy feat.”