Altice today announced it officially closed its $17.7 billion deal to purchase Cablevision, which it will combine with its recently acquired Suddenlink to form Altice USA, the fourth largest cable provider in the U.S.
With Cablevision and Suddenlink combined, Altice USA will serve 4.6 million customers across 20 states. Altice USA now represents about 40 percent of the Altice Group's total business.
Patrick Drahi, founder and controlling shareholder of Altice, called the completed Cablevision acquisition a "critical step" in the development of the Altice Group.
"Altice USA is a key pillar of our business and a powerful and dynamic growth platform. We are very excited about our U.S. business and the opportunities we see in this market. We will accelerate network investments and bring innovative products and services to U.S. customers by leveraging our global operational expertise, scale and resources," said Drahi in a statement.
With the $17.7 billion Cablevision deal sealed, Altice also announced some management changes. Dexter Goei will step down as Altice N.V. CEO and will assume the role of Altice USA CEO in order to "focus his leadership on the successful integration of Cablevision and Suddenlink." Goei will also replace Drahi as chairman of Altice N.V. -- the European portion of Altice's business -- in order to remain involved in Altice's global M&A strategy.
"Altice USA is well positioned to grow as a leading communications and media group with its best infrastructure, most innovative and reliable services, and a committed customer-centric approach," Goei said in a statement. "Our immediate focus is on integrating our businesses within Altice, fostering their development through innovation and investment, and delivering on our plans to enhance the customer experience."
Michel Combes, the former Alcatel-Lucent CEO who joined Altice last year, will take over as CEO of Altice N.V.
"Since joining us last year, [Combes] has been instrumental in structuring and harmonizing our operations and strengthening our management teams across the board. I am very pleased to work with him in his new role as the Altice Group embarks on its next phase of development," said Drahi in a statement.
As Goei said, Altice USA's immediate focus will be on integrating and improving Cablevision and Suddenlink. For now, that means ambitious cost-cutting measures at Cablevision as well as network upgrades and expansion. Altice previously told FierceCable that it plans to have up to 1 Gbps service available by the end of 2016 in a total of more than 250 Suddenlink-served communities, representing more than 60 percent of its high-speed internet customers.
But analysts have speculated that, even though Altice has said it will chill on the M&A front for a while after Cablevision, there are still plenty of acquisition targets left in the U.S. that could potentially give Altice USA a sharper competitive edge in the U.S. cable broadband market.
Sam Rosen, managing director and vice president of consumer at ABI Research, previously told FierceCable that Altice USA taking a run at acquiring a mobile operator like T-Mobile or Sprint would be in line with what Altice has already done in Europe with SFR-Numericable. Additionally, Joel Espelien, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group, previously told FierceCable that there are still many Tier 2 and Tier 3 broadband providers that Altice USA could possibly go after in order to increase its U.S. footprint and become more of an aggressive competitor on the wireline side.
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