Altice buys 23m more shares in SFR

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Ten days after regulator blocks acquisition of remaining 22.5% of SFR, Altice increases stake to 82.9% private deals

Patrick Drahi’s Altice has acquired 23 million shares in French mobile operator SFR only 10 days after the French regulator blocked a move to buy all the SFR shares it did not already own.

The company announced that it had agreed to acquire the SFR shares in what it called “private off-market transactions”, in exchange for 36.9 million common shares in Altice. Altice said the deal represented 5.21% of outstanding SFR shares.

The deal has increased Altice’s ownership of SFR from 77.75% to 82.9%, said Altice, which first took control of SFR through its Numericable subsidiary in mid-2014. A year later it increased its stake by buying further SFR stakes from the previous owner, Vivendi.

The move comes only 10 days after the French securities regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) opposed Altice’s public exchange offer for all the shares in SFR that it did not already own. It offered 1.6 Altice shares for every outstanding SFR share.

The AMF decision on 4 October came as a surprise to Altice. CEO Michel Combes said at the time that it was “a true step backwards”. He said that the decision came “completely without warning”. The AMF complained of the “imprecise” nature of the offer.