Exclusive: Altice USA draws up plans for IPO - sources

Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:47am EDT
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By Sophie Sassard and Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) - Altice USA, the cable operator that Netherlands-based Altice NV (ATCA.AS: Quote) put together by acquiring Cablevision and Suddenlink Communications, is drawing up plans for a potential initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move would allow Altice's founder, French billionaire Patrick Drahi, to expand his budding U.S. cable empire by giving Altice USA public stock it can use as currency to help finance more acquisitions, the people said on Thursday.

Altice USA, which is now valued at between $25 billion and $30 billion, plans to invite investment banks to make presentations in the coming weeks about their role in a potential IPO in New York, the people said.

Based on these pitches, Altice USA may hire IPO underwriters by January, and could go public sometime in 2017, subject to market conditions, the people said. The IPO could raise close to $2 billion, one of the people added.

The IPO plans are preliminary, and Drahi may decide to keep Altice USA private, the people cautioned, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

"We are focused on execution. We do not plan anything else at this stage," an Altice spokeswoman said.

Altice shares jumped as much as 3.4 percent on the news in Amsterdam, and were up 1.5 percent at 17.15 euros ($18.65) in afternoon trading. Altice, which Drahi built into a telecoms and cable empire through debt-heavy acquisitions in Europe and Israel, entered the U.S. market last year by acquiring regional cable company Suddenlink for $9.1 billion.

A few months later, it extended its reach to 20 U.S. states by snapping up the country's fourth-largest operator, Cablevision, which provides cable and broadband services in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, for $17.7 billion.   Continued...

Patrick Drahi, Franco-Israeli businessman and Executive Chairman of cable and mobile telecoms company Altice, attends the inauguration of the Drahi-X Novation Center, dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation, at the Ecole Polytechnique at the Saclay Paris-Sud University in Orsay, France, April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier