Altice: Coombs resigns, Patrick Drahi takes the hand


by Gwénaëlle Barzic

PARIS (Reuters) – Altice (AS:TCAA), the parent company of telecoms operator SFR (PA:SFRGR), announced on Thursday evening the resignation of his chief executive officer Michel Combes, as part of a major reorganization of its direction marked by the return to the forefront of Patrick Drahi, after the concerns raised by the investors.

The founder and controlling shareholder of Altice, who was more of a leading role in the organizational structure of its holding, will take over the presidency of the council with the objective of overseeing the group’s strategy and its execution, in particular in France where to focus the difficulties.

Michel Combes, in office at Altice since 2015, is replaced by the right arm of Patrick Drahi Dexter Goei, who headed up the activities of Altice in the United States.

Alain Weill and rose in the ranks by taking on the function of CEO of SFR and director of the media activities of Altice, accurate Altice in a press release, while the chief financial officer Dennis Okhuijsen is the executive director of Altice in Europe.

Armando Pereira, the tailor of costs of Patrick Drahi, is appointed director of operations of Altice.

“The new management and governance structure are designed to better implement the strategy of Altice, to ensure that the management responds more clearly to his acts and to improve the operating and financial performance of the group,” says Altice in its press release.

These announcements come at a time when the title Altice fell Thursday to its lowest level in nearly two years, a sign of ongoing concern for investors since the release on Friday of quarterly results deemed disappointing.

The title has lost 34% since Friday and more than 54% from 9 June.

Michel Combes, who took over the general management of Altice and SFR pays the group’s difficulties in halting the exodus of its subscribers in France, despite heavy investments in the deployment of high speed broadband and content.

Since its acquisition of control by Altice, the number two in the mobile in France, relegated to the third place in the fixed behind Free ( Iliad (PA:ILD)), has lost more than 1.6 million mobile customers and over half a million fixed broadband subscribers.


According to several sources, it has also suffered from its difficulty in finding its place in the organization of Altice and its difficult to hear with several high-ranking officers of the group, and some of the companions of adventure for long-time Patrick Drahi.

“Michel Combes is not part of the small circle, which is a problem knowing that it is a group that works in a logic of clan, family”, explained one of these sources.

The resignation of the leader, passed previously by Alcatel, Vodafone (LON:VOD) and France Telecom, has been made official on Thursday, says Altice in a press release.

With his departure, the entrepreneur billionaire Patrick Drahi sends a strong signal, in particular in the direction of the markets, his awareness of the need to solve the problem French.

Has the presidency of the council, its mission will be to “determine the strategic direction, operational, commercial and technology group, and its execution, including, in particular, SFR”, specifies the communiqué.

He will have to right arm Dexter Goei, the new strong man of Altice, whom he knew from a long time, and with whom he has won the battle for the takeover of SFR in the face of the French industrialist Martin Bouygues (PA:BOUY).

Former investment banker at JP Morgan and then Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), the american leader, which came in 2009 at Altice, has successfully supervised the implementation of Exchange of the cable tv operators Suddenlink and Cablevision bought out by Altice in the United States.

He will retain his duties in the United States and will assume in addition to the central functions within the group.

The tandem will face the challenge of restoring stability in SFR, in the face of a waltz of its officers for several years, while succeeding in his bid to return to its subscribers through a quality network restored and offers content enriched.

(Edited by Dominique Rodriguez)

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