One of Patrick Drahi’s holding companies, Altice France, which is the controlling shareholder of the Numericable Group, has just completed the acquisition of a total of about 3.25 million shares of Numericable, representing about 2.6% position in its share capital.
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The shares were purchased from two institutional investors, the Pechel Funds and Five Arrows Funds after Altice exercised call options granted to it by Pechel and Five Arrows on November 7, 2013.
The purchases were completed at a price of about US$51.25 (€37.4139) per share for a total consideration of about US$166 million (€121.5m). The consideration was fully paid in cash, and was funded by increased indebtedness at Altice France.
By picking up these shares, Altice France now holds directly 40% of the shares in Numericable Group, which is something it announced it had secured the right to do when it announced it had formed an agreement to acquire the French mobile telephony operator SFR, from media company Vivendi, two months ago.
That transaction is still undergoing the relevant regulatory scrutiny, but to date no obvious roadblocks have yet emerged which might prevent it from closing later in the year. When SFR and Numericable eventually merge, under the terms of the US$23 billion deal Altice will end up increasing its holding in the merged entity to 60%. Vivendi itself will then hold a continuing position initially of 20%, with the option to either hold it for the longer term or to sell off shares over time during periods of favourable markets, with a residual public float remaining, also of 20%.