Altice is the holdings group controlled by billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, who has emerged as the most powerful of France's new breed of media and telecoms tycoons. Its best known subsidiary, and still the biggest by revenues, is Groupe SFR, created in 2014 from the acquisition of leading French mobile service SFR by domestic cable operator Numericable, then owned by Drahi. SFR is France's #2 telecoms brand after Orange and the group also now owns the Virgin Mobile brand locally. However, domestic mobile customers have been in steady decline, slipping to 14.6m by the end of 2016. Numericable - now 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 6.1m 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 own cable channels include BFM TV and RMC. Combined revenues from France in 2016 were €11.0bn. Though publicly quoted in its own right, Groupe SFR is 84% owned by parent group Altice, which first established its power through Drahi's gradual acquisition and merger of France's four existing traditional cable companies to form Numericable. Altice secured a deal to acquire control of SFR from former parent Vivendi despite fierce opposition from rival mobile service Bouygues, and bought out Vivendi's remaining shares in early 2015. That same year, an attempt by Altice to buy out Bouygues as well was spurned by the latter's controlling shareholders. Drahi has also added a series of international operators to his portfolio, not least Portugal Telecom at the end of 2014 and - in his boldest move to-date - US cable provider Cablevision in 2016. The group has also acquired a string of content and technology developers, including in 2017 the French video advertising platform Teads. Poor performance, especially in France, has prompted the group to restructure its operations, and it will spin off Altice USA as a separate company in 2018. SFR chief Michel Combes, latter chief executive of Altice, was forced to step down in 2017. His predecessor Dexter Goei was reinstalled as CEO. Pro forma group revenues for 2016 were €23.5bn. Adbrands no longer profiles this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services.
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Capsule checked 24th March 2017
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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