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Altice Europe beats forecasts boosted by customer wins

Telecoms and cable group Altice Europe ATCA.AS beat quarterly core profit forecasts on Thursday, as it added French mobile and residential fibre customers, offsetting lower media revenues.

The multinational group’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the third quarter rose 5.1% from a year earlier to 1.48 billion euros ($1.75 billion), on revenues edging 3.2% up, both ahead of analyst estimates.

“We had a good third-quarter; robust performance with net gains in fixed and mobile in most of our geographies,” Altice founder and main shareholder Patrick Drahi said in a call, stipulating that in France the group had slightly underperformed its competitors.

He forecast a negative fourth-quarter coronavirus impact, as travel restrictions hit roaming fees, lockdowns keep people from shops and advertising revenues fall amid a declining market.

The multinational group nevertheless confirmed its full-year targets, which include revenue and EBITDA growth.

Franco-Israeli billionaire Drahi has offered to take the firm private in a deal valuing the group at 4.9 billion euros, but a minority shareholder has called the offer too low and opportunistic.

Deutsche Bank analyst Robert Grindle said that the improved profitability would further convince investors that the problems Altice Europe had over the year were temporary.

“It will make them more aggrieved in their view that the offer is lower than they would wish for,” he said.

Drahi did not comment on the proposed buyout ahead of the publication of the offer’s details.

His offer comes after years of investor scrutiny over Altice Europe’s high debt levels, which have weighed on its share price, although the company had recently chipped away at that burden and has gained traction with subscribers in France.

The Amsterdam-listed company said it had repaid 1.4 billion euros since April 2020, bringing its net debt to 28.9 billion euros at the end of the quarter.

Rivals such as France’s Orange ORAN.PA, Iliad ILD.PA and Bouygues Telecom BOUY.PA also posted third-quarter growth despite lost roaming fees under resurging COVID-19 restrictions. Reuters

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