As it streamlines operations and makes ambitious fiber-deployment plans in the U.S., Altice NV is also still making big moves in Europe.
This time, however, Patrick Drahi’s burgeoning telecom conglomerate is offloading assets, not acquiring them. Altice said Thursday that it will sell its Belgium and Luxembourg business to Telenet Group BVBA, the Belgian unit of John Malone’s Liberty Global PLC, in a transaction valued at $417 million.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, it’s the first time Drahi has disposed of assets when not forced to do so by regulators during a larger purchase.
The deal comes after Altice lost out to Liberty Global in a bidding for Base, Belgium’s third-largest mobile operator. That left Altice with no clear path to become a major player in Belgium. Altice is now opting instead to focus its resources on the U.S., where it paid $9.1 billion and $17.7 billion, respectively, to acquire Suddenlink Communications and Cablevision earlier this year.
Earlier this week, Altice revealed that it’s spinning technical staff for those two cable companies into a new company called Altice Technical Services.
The company said the spinoff strategy is consistent with the way it conducts operations in Europe and is aimed at supporting the company’s ambitious plan of launching fiber-to-the-home service over its entire U.S. footprint over the next five years.
The Communications Workers of America has expressed concern that the spinoff move might be a ploy to avoid regulatory agreements not to conduct layoffs of U.S. employees.
Emailing FierceCable to compliment us on our coverage of the CWA’s concern, one Altice USA tech even signed his missive, “From a very concerned employee of Altice USA.”