Groupe SFR / Altice Europe

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Selected Altice / Groupe SFR advertising

Altice Europe is the holdings group controlled by billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, who emerged as one of the most powerful of France's new breed of media and telecoms tycoons in the 2010s. Its core subsidiary, and the biggest by revenues, is Groupe SFR, created in 2014 from the acquisition of French mobile service SFR by domestic cable operator Numericable, then owned by Drahi. SFR is France's #2 telecoms brand after Orange, and it also offers low-cost no-contract brand RED by SFR. However, domestic mobile customers have been in steady decline, slipping to 14.4m by mid 2018. Numericable - now also rebranded as SFR - is the country's last remaining traditional cable TV service, and the main premium TV competitor to Canal+, with a broad collection of its own content streams as well as third-party channels. It has around 6m subscribers. During 2016, Drahi injected into SFR his controlling shareholdings in a collection of other French media brands including the newspaper Liberation, news and business titles L'Express and L'Expansion and trade magazines including marketing bible Strategies. They are accompanied in the SFR Media division by a large minority stake in broadcast group NextRadioTV, whose cable channels include BFM TV, RMC and i24. Combined revenues from Altice France in 2017 were €10.8bn. Altice was originally created from Drahi's gradual acquisition and merger of France's four existing traditional cable companies to form Numericable. It then secured a deal to acquire control of SFR from former parent Vivendi, and bought out Vivendi's remaining shares in early 2015. Drahi has also added a series of international operators to his portfolio, not least Portugal Telecom at the end of 2014 - now Meo - and in his boldest move to-date US cable provider Cablevision in 2016. The group also acquired a string of content and technology developers, including in 2017 the French video advertising platform Teads. However, poor performance, especially in France, prompted the group to restructure its operations. It spun off Cablevision - now Altice USA - as a separate company in 2018, though Patrick Drahi remains controlling shareholder of this too. It offers pay TV and broadband services in several parts of the US under the Optimum and Suddenlink brands to a total of around 4.5m subscribers. Soon afterwards, the group's French wireless telecoms infrastructure was spun out as a joint venture with private equity investors under the name Hivory. Alain Weill is CEO of Altice Europe. Dexter Goei is CEO of Altice USA. Group revenues for 2017 were €14.7bn excluding the US business. Altice USA reported revenues of $9.6bn in 2018.

Capsule checked 12th March 2019

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Nov 2017: Ads Of The Week: French media and telecoms group Altice shocked investors with a sharp decline in performance in its core domestic market, where it controls #2 mobile and broadband provider SFR, and also in Portugal, where it owns the main domestic fixed and mobile telecoms operator. Performance in the US - where it acquired cable operator Cablevision last year - was also weakened by the impact of cord-cutting. More worrying still is Altice's massive debt load of over €50bn, more than twice its annual revenues. Poor performance could result in serious problems servicing that massive sum. The combination of fears prompted a dramatic decline in Altice's share price. That resulted in the resignation of the group's CEO, industry veteran Michel Combes. Altice founder Patrick Drahi has returned to a more hands-on role as executive chairman, and appointed longtime lieutenant Dexter Goei as group chief executive. Alain Weill was appointed CEO of French telecoms division SFR.

Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd Jun 2016: There was a management reshuffle at Altice, the French media and telecoms group which owns domestic mobile and cable giant SFR and now US cable operator Cablevision. That acquisition completed this week. Altice CEO Dexter Goei will transfer to the US to lead Cablevision and other US assets, succeeded as group chief executive by SFR's Michel Combes. Goei will also take on the title of global president of Altice from its controlling shareholder, the billionaire tycoon Patrick Drahi, who will head a new advisory board to identify new strategic, operational and technological opportunities for the group. The most pressing is how to shrink the group's whopping debt, expected to top $50bn this year, or around twice combined revenues.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th May 2016: As had been expected, US federal regulators approved two key deals that will reshape the US cable industry. Charter Communications' acquisition of both Time Warner Cable and BrightHouse Networks, and the purchase of Cablevision by French group Altice were both greenlit by the FCC. Final approval is still required from the states of California and New York respectively, but no last-minute complications are expected. The enlarged Charter moves up to become the #2 broadband provider, and #3 video supplier in the US, behind Comcast and AT&T respectively. Altice will be the #4 cable provider.

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Sep 2015: French cable and telecoms predator Altice widened its presence in the US, with a deal to acquire Cablevision, the cable supplier serving the New York metropolitan market. The price tag is $10bn, plus almost $8bn of the target's weighty accumulated debt. Cablevision's controlling shareholders, the Dolan family, will quit the sector though they continue to own cable network AMC and New York's Madison Square Garden arena. The deal marks another triumph for Altice chairman Patrick Drahi, who has accumulated in an impressive collection of key international cable and telecoms assets over the past two years including Numericable-SFR in France and Portugal Telecom.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jun 2015: An offer of €10bn from French telecoms and cable group Numericable SFR to acquire rival mobile provider Bouygues Telecom has been declined by the Bouygues family. After several days of consideration, chairman Martin Bouyges said that his firm, the country's #3 mobile carrier, is strong enough to continue as a separate business, and highlighted the "significant execution risk" over a merger. The French government had already voiced its opposition to a merger of SFR and Bouygues. Publicly the government cited Numericable SFR's high level of borrowings and the possibility of resulting financial instability. Privately, it's thought the government fears that consolidation would reduce the number of bidders as well as the amount of cash available to spend on new 4G spectrum which it plans to auction later this year.

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