May 19, 2015 / 10:10 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-France's Altice in talks to buy Suddenlink Communications -sources

By Leila Abboud and Greg Roumeliotis

May 19 (Reuters) - French telecommunications group Altice SA is in advanced talks to buy U.S.-based Suddenlink Communications in a deal that could value the cable operator at up to $10 billion, including debt, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The deal, which could be announced in the coming days, has not yet been finalised and could still fall apart.

The regional cable company, backed by private-equity firm BC Partners and a Canadian pension fund, operates in the South and Midwest and has 1.43 million customers.

If finalized, the deal would take Altice, which is controlled by French billionaire Patrick Drahi, into the massive cable market of the United States for the first time.

Drahi has turned Altice into a serial acquirer since taking it public in January 2014. Last year alone, the group used its French cable company Numericable to take over the country’s second largest mobile carrier SFR, as well as snapping up Portugal Telecom and another operator in the Dominican Republic.

The Suddenlink deal could push off a long mooted consolidation in France where Altice has openly said that it would be the natural buyer of number three mobile player Bouygues Telecom.

In recent months Bouygues’ owner tycoon Martin Bouygues has said his company is dedicated to remaining independent.

Altice, which has been on a buying spree concentrated in Europe in the past year, is making fresh inroads into the United States- a market much more competitive and larger than Europe - thereby signifying a shift in strategy and geographical footprint, the source said.

Last week, Altice Chief Executive Dexter Goei said the company will “continue to be active in M&A” but has no specific deals to look forward to.

BC Partners declined to comment. Altice and Suddenlink could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the deal talks between Altice and Suddenlink. ( (Additional reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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