Continuing its acquisitions spree but this time in Europe, Patrick Drahi’s Netherlands-based Altice announced Friday that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire 94.7% of Media Capital, Portugal’s biggest media company, from Spanish media group Prisa.Media Capital's assets take in the country’s biggest free-to-air broadcaster, TVI, and its largest content producer, Plural Entertainment.The acquisition, which still has to gain regulatory approval, values Media Capital at €440 million ($503 million), subject to debt and working capital adjustments, Altice said in a...
Over the last three years, École Polytechnique-trained Drahi – who cites US cable tycoon John Malone as mentor – has transformed Netherlands-based Altice into the U.S.’s fourth largest cable operator, France’s second largest and leader in Portugal and Israel. Revenue split is 47% France, 34% US, 10% Portugal.
Since Altice’s $1.8 billion IPO in January 2014, company debt has mushroomed from $1.77 billion in 2012 to $52 billion in 2016, as it has bought controlling stakes in France’s SFR and Numericable, Portugal’s PT and U.S. cable operators Suddenlink and Cablevision. Drahi stunned the industry in 2017 by indicating an interest in acquiring the third largest cable operator, Charter Communications, signaling just how huge its ambitions are stateside.
Rated below investment grade, Altice uses higher leverage than Europe’s traditional telecom players to fund acquisitions. But its junk bond offerings have been consistently oversubscribed, lured by the promise of high EBITDA margins, delivered by cost-cutting synergies and provision of high-speed bandwidth and premium content. After tripling value between early 2014 and mid-2015, Altice’s share price plummeted by November 2015 on fears of excessive leverage, but recovered ground in 2016, driven by higher EBITDA and $22 billion in debt restructuring.
Following a June management reshuffle, Dexter Goei and Michel Combes now serve as President and CEO, while Drahi focuses on content acquisition, via Altice Studios, Altice Channel Factory and SVOD service Zive; distribution deals with NBCUniversal and Discovery Communications, and acquisition of series such as “Medici: Masters of Florence.”