For Altice and SFR, priority is given to deleveraging

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For Altice and SFR, priority is given to deleveraging

Communication operation launched for the billionaire and owner of Altice France, Patrick Drahi. The latter is back on the front of the stage to reassure and distance himself from his former right-hand man, Armando Pereira, entangled in a corruption case.

The Portuguese justice accuses the partner in business of 30 years of Drahi, but also other executives of Altice, of overcharging at the expense of the company and the tax authorities. The damage is estimated at several hundred million euros.

A group built by debt

“I feel betrayed and deceived by a small group of individuals,” Patrick Drahi reacted. However, this is not the only front on which the boss must fight. The scandal indeed contributes to putting the spotlight back on the group’s indebtedness.

Altice France has a debt of nearly 24 billion euros, an increase of more than 200 million euros. However, the rise in interest rates makes it even more difficult to manage this debt and is worrying investors.

In 2024, Altice will have to pay 1.6 billion euros under this debt. During his speeches this week, Patrick Drahi therefore tried to allay fears. For this, he makes deleveraging an absolute priority.

Priority, it is ultimately above all an obligation for Altice. However, SFR’s quarterly results may complicate the message launched by its owner. During the period, the turnover decreased by 2.6% to 2.77 billion euros.

SFR is losing subscribers on mobile

All the activities of the telecom operator are oriented downward. Fixed-line loses 3.5% of turnover. On mobile, the decline is 1.6% and 2.3% on professional services. In the media business, the operating result collapsed by 16% year-on-year.

On the fixed side, thanks to fiber, SFR has gained 243,000 subscribers since the beginning of the year. On the other hand, the bleeding continues on the mobile side with 250,000 fewer subscribers. On the contrary, its competitors are growing.

It is therefore in this unfavourable context that Altice has committed to reducing its debt ratio to more acceptable levels in the medium term. As Le Figaro points out, the promise is not new. This reduction was already promised in 2020 and 2021.

To make it a reality, Patrick Drahi cites several priority levers, among which the reduction of internal costs, the possible sale of non-strategic assets or the repurchase of debt.

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