Altice raises stake in Numericable to 74.6 per cent

France-based Altice said it is buying a 34.6 per cent stake in Numericable Group from Carlyle Cable Investments and Cinven, confirming plans that were originally announced on April 7 when Vivendi agreed to sell its French unit SFR to Altice.

 SFR, Altice, Bouygues, Orange, Vivendi

Altice founder Patrick Drahi
Copyright: Aude de Cazenove REA

The move by Altice to raise its current stake in the French cable operator from 40 per cent forms part of its plan to merge SFR with Numericable to create a new fixed and mobile behemoth on the French market and establish a more formidable rival to Orange France, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad's Free. Altice founder and shareholder Patrick Drahi is set to become the chairman of the new company.

In April, Altice said it would own 60 per cent of the new SFR Numericable following these transactions. It also said it would carry out a rights issue of €4.7 billion ($6.3 billion) to fund the purchase, and further indicated that it may also consider raising up to an additional €550 million in equity to help finance the overall transaction.

On Thursday, Altice said 20.6 per cent out of the 34.6 per cent would be financed by the issuance of 24,751,873 new ordinary shares by Altice; these shares should then be listed on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange from Friday July 25. Following the listing, Carlyle will own 6.7 per cent of Altice and Cinven 3.3 per cent. Both companies have entered into a "lock up" agreement and cannot sell their new Altice shares before Sept. 30, 2014.

Altice said it would use cash to buy the remaining shares representing about 14 per cent of Numericable. It added that it has already financed the cash for this transaction from its equity capital increase on June 24, 2014.

Meanwhile Altice and Vivendi signed the definitive agreement on the merger of Numericable and SFR in June. Numericable has also agreed to buy Omer Telecom, which operates under the Virgin Mobile brand in France, for €325 million after the successful conclusion of exclusive talks with existing shareholders Carphone Warehouse and the Virgin Group.

For more:
- see this Altice statement

Related Articles:
Numericable agrees to buy Virgin Mobile France for €325M
Orange comes top while Free lags behind in French regulator's network review
Altice, Vivendi sign final agreement on SFR-Numericable merger
France rolls up its sleeves to avert planned Bouygues job cuts
Orange reportedly in talks with Bouygues as Numericable bids for Virgin Mobile France