Billionaire Drahi Isn't Willing to Sell Altice's French Unit

(Bloomberg) -- Patrick Drahi isn’t willing to sell the struggling French unit of his cable and telecommunications company, Altice NV, the billionaire said on the sidelines of an event in Lisbon, Tuesday.

“I’m not a seller of my French business,” Drahi told reporters. “I started my entire business in France and there is no chance I sell.”

Construction and telecommunications conglomerate Bouygues SA is considering a bid with other investors for Altice France to consolidate the local telecom market, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

“To buy such a business you must have a lot of money and certainly we have not received any information, any nothing from nobody, except press information,” Drahi said.

For the Moroccan-born billionaire, a takeover could be the answer to the problems that have plagued Altice in recent months, including disenchanted investors, an exodus of customers and a hefty debt load. Drahi has shuffled management, halted acquisitions and committed to asset sales including the spinoff its U.S. unit.

As for Altice’s planned sale of telecommunications towers in France and Portugal, Drahi declined to confirm who the bidders are, but said there were more than 10 parties interested in the purchase from “all around the world.”

The group is targeting signing a deal for about 13,000 tower sites in the two countries in the first half of this year. American Tower Corp. and private equity firm KKR & Co. are said to be among bidders for the assets, which could be valued at about 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion).

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