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Altice Sells French Media Division in Billion-Euro Deal

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In a significant move aimed at reducing its hefty debt, Altice has decided to offload its French media operations to the maritime giant CMA CGM for €1.55 billion. The deal, structured as a cash transaction, sees CMA CGM acquiring an 80% share, while the remaining 20% goes to Merit France, a holding company related to the shipping group. This strategic sale encompasses Altice Media, the parent company of the well-regarded news channel BFM and RMC, a radio broadcaster.

This transaction is a part of Altice’s broader strategy to lessen its financial burden, an initiative that has been in the public eye since the previous summer. Patrick Drahi, the figure behind Altice, has been vocal about his intentions to raise approximately €3 billion through asset disposals. This endeavor is aimed at mitigating the company’s staggering $60 billion debt. Prior sales have included a majority stake in its data center sector to Morgan Stanley and ongoing discussions regarding its French fiber and Portuguese operations.

The sale to CMA CGM, led by Rodolphe Saadé, is still subject to approval from regulatory authorities and consultation with employee representatives, with expectations to finalize by the upcoming summer. This follows on the heels of Altice’s continuous asset divestment, including the sale of a portion of its data centers and explorations to sell its French fiber network.

Meanwhile, Altice’s endeavors in Portugal have also been making headlines, particularly with the anticipated sale of Altice Portugal, where Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has emerged as a leading contender. Additionally, Altice has recently settled a €124.5 million fine with the European Commission, a penalty dating back to 2018 related to the premature advancement of its Portugal Telecom acquisition.

The agreement with CMA CGM not only signifies a pivotal step in Altice’s debt reduction plans but also highlights the shipping conglomerate’s ambition to expand its footprint in the media landscape. Analysts suggest that CMA CGM may be paying a premium for Altice Media, indicating the strategic value placed on the media assets and their potential synergy with CMA CGM’s existing media holdings. This move by CMA CGM is seen as an accelerated path to establishing a formidable media group, complementing its existing portfolio and marking a significant leap in its media sector ambitions.

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