Drahi loose Combes and takes orders for Altice, in turmoil

Patrick Drahi on march 21, 2017 to Paris (Photo: ERIC PIERMONT. AFP)

The group of telecom and media Altice (AS:TCAA), in full meltdown in the stock market, on Thursday announced the takeover of its management by its founder and principal shareholder Patrick Drahi, after the resignation of his chief executive officer Michel Combes.

He joined Altice in August 2015, Michel Combes left his job a week after the announcement of quarterly results disappointing that triggered panic among the investors, the title dropped more than one-third of its value in a week.

His resignation is part of a context of instability of the group executive board: in September, the director-general of telecoms operator SFR (PA:SFRGR), Michel Paulin, had also left his post.

Altice is organized around two main markets: France with SFR, which is present in the telecom and media (BFM TV, Libe, etc), and the United States, where Patrick Drahi has bought cable operators in the united states Suddenlink and Cablevision.

But in both of these markets, Altice has recorded a decrease in turnover in the last quarter, badly received by investors, pushing Patrick Drahi to take the hand.

“Altice announces the reorganization of the management and governance of the group in connection with the resignation today of Michel Combes, ceo of Altice, director of Altice USA and CEO of SFR Group,” said the group.

Patrick Drahi will be appointed chairman of the board of directors and will “establish priorities for strategic, operational, commercial and technological group as well as their implementation, in particular at SFR”, he says.

It is up to the commands of its principal activities a number of his relatives.

Dexter Goei, the man of confidence of Drahi already ceo of Altice, USA, is named chief executive officer of Altice, and will therefore have the operational controls of the group.

Alain Weill, until then director general of SFR-Media (BFM TV, RMC, L’express, etc) are appointed chairman and CEO of SFR.

Companion road historic Drahi, Armando Pereira, already in charge of operations of the telecom division SFR, becomes chief operating officer of Altice Telecom with the responsibility to control the whole of the telecom business of the group.

“This structure represents a return to the original organization that had enabled the success of the group Altice,” says the group.

– Ambitions-us

It is intended to “better implement the strategy of Altice, to put in place a system of responsibilities more clearly and to improve the operating and financial performance of the group,” he says again.

This reorganization “will align more fully the interests of founders, management of the group, all of which have a significant shareholding in the group, with the shareholding public,” says Altice.

The leaders, all major shareholders, “will apply the strategy of convergence between telecoms, content and digital advertising,” dear to the group.

Cited in the release, Michel Combes, believes that, with the return of Patrick Drahi in the presidency, “Altice will be well positioned to implement its strategy in all its operations”.

Mr. Combes was joined Altice in August 2015, after having left the oem telecom Alcatel-Lucent (PA:ALUA) where the compensation payable at his departure had earned him a big controversy.

For Mr Drahi, to regain the confidence of investors and customers promises to be a daunting task.

It aims in particular to make the Us, its first market and account for it on the support of investors since his group, the fourth-largest cable operator in u.s., came to Wall Street at the end of June.

He has recently launched into the mobile via an agreement with the operator Sprint and has announced the launch of a set-top box to receive internet, landline and tv, a first in the United States.

On this market, the group of media and telecommunications has experienced a decline in revenue of 2.5% in the third quarter.

The investors also have the eye fixed on the important debt of Altice, which has remained stable in the third quarter, to € 51 billion. Altice has multiplied acquisitions in recent years.

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