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European telco acquires 70% stake in US’ 7th largest cable firm for $9.1 bn

MUMBAI: European telecom company Altice SA has entered the US cable TV market by acquiring a controlling stake in Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion.

Based in Luxembourg and controlled by the French billionaire Patrick Drahi, Altice is also said to have approached Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operator in the US.

Drahi’s investment vehicle is buying a 70 per cent stake in Suddenlink, the seventh-largest US cable company.

Altice will purchase the stake of the company’s existing owners, private-equity firm BC Partners and CPP Investment Board. BC Partners and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will retain a 30 per cent stake in the cable company. The deal for Suddenlink is expected to close in the final quarter of 2015.

Drahi aims to expand his telecommunications empire to a US cable market that is being quickly reshaped by a series of mergers. Cable providers are trying to get bigger as their traditional business of selling TV service comes under pressure from online rivals.

Suddenlink would give Altice a foothold in the US after a series of deals built it into a large player in Europe’s telecommunications market.

Based in St. Louis, Suddenlink has about 1.5 million residential and commercial customers in over a dozen states, primarily in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and West Virginia.