After climbing to the top rank of French telecom carriers with last year’s acquisition of wireless operator SFR, Altice set its sights on the U.S. market with an agreement to purchase a 70% controlling stake in Suddenlink Communications in a transaction that values the St. Louis, Missouri-based cable operator at $9.1 billion.
Wednesday’s pact with Suddenlink—the seventh-largest cable operator in the U.S.—represents the first foray in the U.S. for Altice. Through its Numericable-SFR division, Altice ranks as one of the strongest competitors against Orange in the French market with 22.5 million mobile telephony and 6.5 million wireline service customers. Altice also boasts telecommunications and cable assets in Israel, the Caribbean region, and in other western European nations that include Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland. Suddenlink, meanwhile, serves 1.5 million residential and business subscribers across a 12-state footprint that includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and West Virginia. The company reported $2.3 billion in revenue and more than $900 million in EBITDA during 2014.
Altice will acquire its Suddenlink shares from BC Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and other investors who, collectively, will be left with a 30% stake upon consummation of the transaction. Contingent upon receipt of regulatory approval, the parties expect to complete the transaction by year’s end. While praising Suddenlink’s “focus on service, innovation and investments” an Altice spokesman termed Suddenlink as “an excellent fit” that will enable Altice to take “a further step in diversifying and balancing its portfolio.”