Altice could sell its Portuguese operator Meo

  •   07/06/2021 - 12h59
  •   DEHOUI Lionel

Last week, several European media outlets reported that Altice would consider releasing Meo to continue its deleveraging program. To this end, the daily Expresso reported that the group had commissioned the bank Lazard to look for potential buyers.

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Altice could sell its Portuguese operator Meo

Not a very surprising "decision"

The daily Expresso reported that the Lazard bank would be responsible for sounding out the market for potential customers. It also said that Meo could be of interest to several investment funds and even large companies such as Orange. The latter may be particularly interested, as it is gradually expanding its presence in Europe through acquisitions. Moreover, Orange is already present in Spain.

As a reminder, Patrick Drahi, the current boss of Altice had acquired Meo in 2014. The company was called Portugal Telecom at the time and was owned by the Brazilian group Oi. The purchase price was €7.4 billion. So far, this acquisition has brought Altice a profit of €2 billion, with an EBITDA of €830 million.

In addition, it is worth noting that the Meo towers have already been sold by Altice in 2020. These were purchased by the Cellnex group , for a value of €800 million. In addition, a year earlier, Altice had also sold the Portuguese company's optical fibre. This was acquired by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners for over two billion euros.


Altice under pressure from its debt

The company headed by Patrick Drahi has a debt that weighs over 30 billion euros. So, considering how expensive it is to deploy 5G networks, the issue remains more worrying.

Moreover, the situation is even more damning for Altice when we consider the arrival of a fourth operator in Portugal. This means more competition, and thus more investment. Moreover, already present in France with SFR, the group has several projects in North America.

In the United States, it has managed to become one of the top four cable operators, of which it is the fourth. In September 2020, it had proposed to acquire the Canadian company Cogeco for eight billion dollars. However, the "family shareholder" of the group did not give a favorable response to his idea. This is further proof that Altice needs to free itself from the weight of its debt in order to move forward.


Altice does not recognize the facts

Altice is keen to venture into several markets, but it is blocked by the scale of its debts. However, regarding the idea of reselling Meo, the group said there was never any question of such a project. It added that it rejects all rumours in this regard and that the alleged recruitment of Lazard bank for the sale was false.

Meo, which belonged to Oi, was bought six years ago by businessman Armando Pereira. Concerning the rumours about its resale, Altice replied that it was an old rumour that is resurfacing.

The group announced that this rumour has been going on for five years, but that there has never been any question of selling Meo at this time. It also added that such speculations are not made on the Portuguese company alone, but on several assets of the group.