Saudi Telecom Company (stc) and Iliad Group reportedly emerged as potential suitors for Altice’s Portugal unit, rivalling private equity company Warburg Pincus to secure a deal for the business which could be worth between €8 billion and €10 billion.

Bloomberg reported stc and Xavier Niel’s Iliad were invited to the second round of bidding for Altice Portugal along with Warburg Pincus, which is pursuing a deal in partnership with Zeno Partners and Antonio Horta-Osorio, the former chair of banking group Credit Suisse.

Sources told Bloomberg several other private equity groups also considered a bid for the unit, including Apollo Global Management and CVC Capital Partners, but have dropped their interest.

Altice owner Patrick Drahi is looking to sell the asset in Portugal to reduce a debt load which stands at around €60 billion.

Financial Times reported in December 2023 he was seeking around €6 billion, but Bloomberg stated this had since risen.

A deal with Altice would deepen stc’s presence in Europe, adding to a 9.9 per cent stake in Telefonica and a €1.2 billion acquisition of tower assets in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.

Altice Portugal operates fixed-line, mobile and pay-TV services, and jointly owns a fibre network with Morgan Stanley’s infrastructure business.