Altice suffers set-back over SFR buyout plan, might appeal decision

SFR HQ building

Altice hit a road bump in its plan to buy all outstanding shares in France-based operator SFR after the French financial markets regulator AMF issued a decision to block the company’s buyout offer.

On Sept. 5, Altice unveiled an offer to buy the 22.5 per cent stake in SFR that it does not already own by offering to exchange eight new shares in AlticeNV for five SFR shares. The transaction was expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year and was designed to simplify the group’s structure.

However, the AMF said the proposed public exchange offer for SFR shares “has been declared non-compliant,” although it provided no further clarification.

A spokesperson for the AMF told FierceWireless:Europe that “the reasons for this ruling will be published at the end of the day [Wednesday].”

Altice, which is also in the process of integrating recently acquired assets such as U.S.-based Cablevision, said the offer is now terminated as a result of the decision and indicated that it might file an appeal with the Court of Appeal in Paris.

“The Altice Group regrets this decision, which goes against the interests of both companies, their shareholders and employees,” the company stated. It added that it believes the decision “was made in breach of applicable stock market regulations.” The company did not respond to requests for further comments before publication.

The offer to buy all outstanding shares in SFR was made just over two years after Altice acquired a majority shareholding in SFR from Vivendi in June 2014, despite deep opposition to the deal within France. Altice beat off fierce competition from Bouygues Group, which had hoped to secure SFR in order to prop up its own telecoms business.

Altice also recently outlined a broader plan to implement a new corporate strategy called the “Altice way” at all units within the group including SFR.

The company has already implemented several new strategies at SFR, including the creation of SFR Media as part of a stronger focus on content and convergence. By acquiring all shares in SFR, Altice intends to simplify its group structure, improve organisational flexibility and cash flows, and facilitate the sharing of skills and best practices within the group.

For more:
- see the Altice statement
- see the AMF decision

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