American Tower, KKR Are Said to Be Bidders for Altice's Towers

(Bloomberg) -- American Tower Corp. and private equity firm KKR & Co. are among bidders for Altice NV’s telecommunications towers, which could be valued at about 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion), people with knowledge of the matter said.

Other companies including infrastructure operator TDF as well as private equity firms have expressed interest in all or parts of the businesses in France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic after billionaire Patrick Drahi’s carrier sent out bid invitations in February, said the people, asking not to be named as the details aren’t public. Altice is considering setting up a new company for the assets and selling stakes in it to the winning bidders, they said.

Representatives for the Altice, American Towers and TDF declined to comment. KKR didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cellnex Telecom SA is considering a bid for Altice’s Portuguese phone towers, people familiar had said in January. Altice had approached both Cellnex and TDF to gauge their interest in its French towers, separate people said in November.

Drahi has been attempting to reassure investors jittery over a European business with around 31 billion euros of debt by halting acquisitions, committing to asset sales and spinning off its U.S. unit. After a rout in Altice’s stock that erased almost half of its value late last year, the Moroccan-born billionaire has also shuffled management and pledged to reduce European debt to four times a key measure of earnings, from about 5.1 times.

Drahi’s businesses have been built after years of debt-fueled expansion in Europe and the U.S., where he assembled Altice USA -- the division that includes the former Cablevision Systems and Suddenlink -- through $26 billion of acquisitions. The U.S. unit has helped Drahi diversify Altice beyond a stagnant European telecommunications market and expand in sports and other media.

On Monday, Altice said it started exclusive talks with Tofane Global to sell its international wholesale voice carrier business in France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic. In December, the company agreed to sell some Swiss telecom operations and data-center businesses valued at more than $200 million.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.