Published on Sep 25, 2023 at 6:21 p.m.
Patrick Drahi’s intentions are becoming clearer on the future of SFR. Three weeks after breaking the taboo of a sale of Altice France, the billionaire quantifies his needs.
Cornered by 60 billion euros of debt, a third of which is carried by the French operator and its media, the telecoms tycoon is seeking around 3 billion euros, according to our information. A “teaser” detailing the lines of the operation led by Lazard and BNP Paribas would, according to these sources, have been sent to potential candidates, primarily private equity funds. This would take the form of a capital increase. “There is a desire from Patrick Drahi to examine the options quickly and dynamically, that’s the good news,” indicates a source.
Patrick Drahi’s camp avoids being hasty at this stage in order to spare its options. Other sources even report a lower expected amount, of the order of 2 to 3 billion euros.
According to sources, the businessman hopes to value SFR around 30 billion euros, or around 8 times Ebitda, and not the clic market reference multiple for telecom operators, of around 5 times. On paper, this would a priori leave little room for capital for the new entrant. The reference ? The takeover of T-Mobile Netherlands by the Apax and Warburg Pincus funds in 2021.
Since then, however, rates have risen sharply. Another question among the funds is what their place would be if Patrick Drahi decided to co-invest alongside them to avoid diluting themselves.
“In reality, on the Altice side, they will be opportunistic, from the raising of capital to the almost total or piecemeal sale of Altice France, the objective is to maximize the value,” indicates an expert in the sector. Today, Patrick Drahi no longer thinks as a telecoms industrialist but as a shareholder.”
“The percentage open to third parties will be much more than a small minority compared to the estimated value,” insist sources close to the situation. The perimeter has variable geometry and is also scalable. Many options are open.” This is therefore a first test of the market.
If Patrick Drahi, however, fell below 50% of Altice France, which would amount to a change of control, this could trigger a renegotiation with its creditors of the 23 billion euros that the group carries.
At this time in any case, there is no reason to rush into the arms of the first fund that comes along. Its first payment, of 1.6 billion euros, does not occur until 2025. And the following ones not for four to five years. Patrick Drahi could dispose of other ets much more quickly in the meantime, such as Portugal, allowing him to loosen his financial constraints.