Altice plans to sell off MEO minus its fibre optics network
Cash-strapped telecoms giant Altice, which has combined debts of more than €60Bn, plans to sell off the MEO brand and operation but will not include its fibre optics network in the deal.
According to Negócios, the group led by Patrick Drahi, prefers so sell different assets in Portugal off in parcels and has been canvassing competitors to make offers for the telecoms operator alone.
Negócios reports that various candidates have been approached during the negotiations with Altice with resistance from the company in Portugal to accept wider proposals to sell off different assets.
In 2019, Altice agreed to the sale of 49% of the optic fibre network in Portugal to Morgan Stanley for €2.3Bn that led to the creation of a new company, Fastfibre. “Altice Portugal FTTH will sell its wholesale services to all operators under the same financial conditions. MEO will provide technical services to Altice Portugal FTTH for the construction, link to clients and maintenance of the fibre network”, stated the company at the time.
In September last year, it was announced that the French group had employed the services of four investment banks to review is European assets to identify disposable assets to sell in order to reduce its debts.
These banks were Lazard, BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs and involved some of Altice’s major assets in the region, including SFR, France’s second-biggest telecoms group and Altice Portugal assets.
Altice’s owner and founder Patrick Drahi said last year that he would slash debts at Altice France, one of three entities in his sprawling media-to-cable empire, by raising €3Bn (US$3.2Bn) of equity, “one way or another.”
If MEO is sold without the fibre optics operation, Altice would retain an important source of revenues since it would continue to control access to the network in Portugal which includes some 5.7 million households.
Altice Portugal revenues from January to September 2023 totalled a healthy €2.1Bn and €742 million in Q3 (+20.3%) which partly explains the resentment among staff and senior management with the way the company in Portugal is being treated by the holding Altice International for incurring debts it had nothing to do with. Portugal’s revenues represent half of the entire company’s revenues. (59%)
In December, the Portuguese banker who led Lloyds Banking Group and Credit Suisse, António Horta Osório, was reported by the Financial Times of being interested in taking over Altice Portugal in partnership with other investors for the company valued at around €6Bn.