Altice shares soar 6% on Portugal Telecom bid

1st December 2014, Comments 0 comments

Shares in Altice, the parent company of French telecoms operator Numericable-SFR, soared more than six percent in trading Monday after the announcement it was in exclusive negotiations to buy Portugal Telecom.

The ebullience belied some analysts' concerns that Altice -- a Luxembourg-incorporated group listed on Amsterdam's stock market and run by Franco-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi -- was on a giddy buying spree.

Earlier this year, it won a 13.4-billion-euro ($16.7-billion) bidding war for control of France's number-two mobile phone operator SFR, and last week was given the green light to make an offer for number-four operator Virgin Mobile. Previously, it was reportedly sniffing around the number-three operator, Bouygues Telecom.

"Some are asking whether Altice has eyes bigger than its stomach, but Portugal Telecom is a low-risk acquisition," Peter Boyland, analyst at IHS Technology, told AFP.

The Portuguese operator "has a good client base in a stable market, while the sector is showing the first cautious signs of economic upturn".

Altice is offering 7.4 billion euros to take Portugal Telecom off the hands of current owner, Brazil's Oi mobile phone company.

That trumped rival offers made by Africa's richest woman, Isabel Dos Santos, who is a daughter of Angola's president, and from investment funds Apax and Bain Capital.

Late Sunday, Altice said it was in exclusive negotiations for Portugal Telecom. On Monday, its shares had jumped 6.58 percent to 57.66 euros midway through the trading day.

The spending spree last month prompted credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade Altice's outlook from stable to negative, though its B3 longterm rating was maintained.

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© 2014 AFP

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