Altice's ambitions for U.S. undimmed after Time Warner Cable setback

Tue May 26, 2015 11:27am EDT
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By Leila Abboud

PARIS (Reuters) - Patrick Drahi, the billionaire owner of deal-hungry European telecoms group Altice ATCE.AS, will not let missing out on Time Warner Cable TWC.N dissuade him from further expansion in the United States, people familiar with the situation said.

Taking his first step across the Atlantic last week by agreeing to buy Suddenlink cable group for $9.1 billion [CQUELS.UL], Drahi also held early talks with Time Warner Cable and weighed a bid, sources had told Reuters.

But the 51-year-old Franco-Israeli businessman was beaten to the finishing line by Charter Communications (CHTR.O: Quote), backed by his mentor turned rival, cable tycoon John Malone.

Charter has offered to buy Time Warner Cable for $56 billion, seeking to combine the No. 3 and No. 2 U.S. cable operators if regulators agree.

Altice does not intend to submit a fresh offer for TWC, two sources said late on Monday.

"There are plenty of other cable companies in the U.S. besides Time Warner, and Altice still intends to be a player in the coming consolidation in the U.S. market," one of them said.

But missing out on the big prize means that Altice could face a harder, more uncertain road in the United States, once the lines are redrawn by the latest deals, analysts said.

Drahi will also have to move fast if he is to realise his mission set after the Suddenlink deal for Altice to one day earn half of its revenue in the United States.   Continued...

Patrick Drahi, Franco-Israeli businessman, Executive Chairman of cable and mobile telecoms company Altice and founder of Numericable, leaves a news conference in Paris, April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer