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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Euronext Amsterdam  >  Altice Europe    ATC   NL0011333752

ALTICE EUROPE (ATC)
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Altice ousts CEO after shares dropped 30 percent in a week

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11/10/2017 | 01:37pm CEST
FILE PHOTO: Patrick Drahi, Franco-Israeli businessman and Executive Chairman of cable and mobile telecoms company Altice, speaks during the launch of the news channel BFM Paris

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - Altice NV (>> Altice) has ousted Chief Executive Michel Combes and brought back founder Patrick Drahi as president as the telecoms group seeks to reassure investors after its shares dropped around 30 percent in a week.

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - Altice NV (>> Altice) has ousted Chief Executive Michel Combes and brought back founder Patrick Drahi as president as the telecoms group seeks to reassure investors after its shares dropped around 30 percent in a week.

Combes, 55, was brought in two years ago to put Altice's ailing French mobile operator SFR back on track.

But the performance of France's second largest carrier has hardly improved, squeezed between market leader Orange's higher quality services and Iliad's cheaper offer.

Shares in Altice have plunged about a third in value since the Amsterdam-based company said last week it lost around 75,000 broadband customers in France in the third quarter and its debt had reached 49.6 billion euros (44 billion pounds).

A company insider told Reuters Combes had struggled to find his place alongside Drahi's inner circle, which includes Altice USA boss Dexter Goei, SFR director Armando Pereira and General Secretary Jeremie Bonnin.

"Michel was not part of the inner circle, which became a problem because Altice is almost run like a family business, around a close clan of trusted allies," said the person, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Combes and Drahi have very different public profiles. Part of the French establishment, having graduated from the elite Ecole Polytechnique, Combes was close to France's previous Socialist government, while Franco-Israeli tycoon Drahi has come under fire for not paying more tax in the country and President Emmanuel Macron has publicly criticised Altice's high debts.

Altice said Drahi would return as president after stepping down from that role in 2016, while Goei was named as CEO and will also continue as CEO and chairman of Altice USA (>> Altice USA Inc).

Drahi is widely respected in the industry and is Altice's largest shareholder with a 31.1 percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data. Goei is the 10th-largest shareholder with a 0.75 percent stake.

"The organisation changes are meant to align public shareholders’ interests with the ones of the group’s managers, and seek to restore investors’ confidence, but we are not convinced it will be the case," Bryan Garnier analysts said in a note to clients.

"The concentration of the new governance around historical Altice executives might indicate the group is having difficulties attracting and retaining top executives from the industry."

At 1200 GMT, Altice shares were down 4.4 percent at 10.175 euros.

'CART BEFORE THE HORSES'

Under Combes, Altice embarked in a media spending spree, bidding for expensive sports rights and acquiring digital companies. However, bankers and analysts said the poor quality of its network was regarded as the main issue to be solved by customers and investors.

"There is a general feeling that he put the cart before the horses", said a banker close to Altice.

Another Altice insider said Combes' announcement in July of an ambitious fibre roll-out project to connect the whole of France was another reason that prompted Drahi to replace him.

Altice's poor performance in Europe has led investors to question its strategy and fuelled concerns the highly leveraged company will not be able to maintain its debt level in an environment of rising interest rates.

Altice says 85 percent of its debt has fixed interest rates and the group has refinanced 36 billion euros of debt over the past 18 months, extending maturities. As a result, only 44 percent of its debt matures before 2023.

"The U.S. has been doing well, better than expected, and the European operations have generally been sort of bouncing along the bottom," said Pivotal Research Group analyst Jeff Wlodarczak. "Change had to be made."

Combes was appointed chief operating officer of Altice in 2015, after leaving as head of telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent ahead of its takeover by Finland’s Nokia (>> Nokia Oyj). He became Altice's CEO the following year when Goei stepped down from the role to take the reins at Altice USA.

In other changes, Dennis Okhuijsen was named Altice Europe chief executive in addition to serving as chief financial officer of Altice NV, and Alain Weill, CEO of the company's SFR Media unit, was appointed SFR Group chairman and CEO as well as Altice Media chief operating officer.

($1 = 0.8585 euros)

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Leslie Adler and Mark Potter)

By Sophie Sassard and Gwénaëlle Barzic

Stocks treated in this article : Nokia Oyj, Altice, Altice USA Inc
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ALTICE EUROPE 3.55% 2.447 Delayed Quote.-72.98%
ALTICE USA INC 1.31% 18.6 Delayed Quote.-13.57%
NOKIA OYJ 3.06% 4.681 Delayed Quote.16.64%
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Financials (€)
Sales 2018 14 207 M
EBIT 2018 1 271 M
Net income 2018 -360 M
Debt 2018 31 546 M
Yield 2018 -
P/E ratio 2018 -
P/E ratio 2019
EV / Sales 2018 2,51x
EV / Sales 2019 2,49x
Capitalization 4 175 M
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Technical analysis trends ALTICE EUROPE
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Mean consensus HOLD
Number of Analysts 15
Average target price 4,33 €
Spread / Average Target 83%
EPS Revisions
Managers
NameTitle
Dexter G. Goei Chief Executive Officer & Director
Patrick Drahi President & Executive Director
Jurgen van Breukelen Chairman
Dennis Okhuijsen Chief Financial Officer & Executive Director
Scott Matlock Independent Non-Executive Director
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