European telecom giant Altice closed on its $9.1 billion purchase of a 70% interest in Suddenlink Communications Monday, making official its entrance into the U.S. cable market.
Altice first announced it would purchase Suddenlink in May. The all-stock purchase received Federal Communications Commission approval Dec. 18.
Former Suddenlink investors BC Partners and CPP Investment Board have retained a 30% interest in the company, now called Altice USA, as planned.
Altice has said it intends to build a foothold in the U.S. cable market – in September it agreed to purchase Cablevision Systems in an all-cash deal valued at about $17.7 billion, including assumed debt. While the company still has its sights on Cox Communications as a possible next target – Cox has repeatedly said it is not for sale – Altice CEO Dexter Goei earlier this month that the telecom giant will likely take a break from M&A for at least a year or two. That could be time spent assimilating its two current acquisitions, and it also could give the company time convince investors it can run companies as well as buy them.Altice stock has taken a hit – it was down as much as 60% from its summer highs – as investors worried if it could integrate its myriad acquisitions.
As part of the Suddenlink deal, chairman and CEO Jerry Kent will officially leave the company he founded in 2002, but has agreed to invest in Altice USA. Kent will become chairman of a newly formed Advisory Council at Altice USA, the other members of which will be announced later.
In the U.S., Altice’s leadership team will consist of Goei, who will assume the additional role of Executive Chairman of Altice USA; Charles F. Stewart as co-President and Chief Financial Officerand Hakim Boubazine as co-President and Chief Operating Officer of Altice USA. US operations will be coordinated by Michel Combes, Group COO of Altice, with the rest of the Altice operations in the Group.
Suddenlink is the seventh largest U.S. cable operator, serving 1.45 million residential customers and over 90,000 business customers in 17 states, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia. I
“Altice is very excited to officially acquire its first asset in the United States and welcome Suddenlink and its employees to our international group,” Goei said in a statement. “Suddenlink is a strong, leading business which we plan to continue to develop and grow through investment in infrastructure, innovation in technology and by integrating best practices from our brands around the world.”