Altice responds to Bouygues rejection, announces Dutch move

Having had its advances promptly spurned earlier in the week, Altice has decided to belatedly reveal more details of its offer to acquire Bouygues Telecom, in an apparent appeal to Bouygues shareholders.

Altice confirmed reports that the bid valued Bouygues Telecom at around €10 billion, which it seems to think is a generous valuation. This consisted of €9 billion cash up front, of which up to €4 billion is new debt (not the entire bid, as had been reported), and either another billion in three years or a billion euros worth of Numericable-SFR shares.

Addressing the regulatory risk Bouygues was so concerned about, Altice referred to some kind of arrangement with Iliad, which runs rival network Free Mobile, regarding unspecified asset transfers, insisting “…they are more robust than the agreements entered into by Bouygues in March 2014 as part of its failed takeover bid for SFR.” Altice also insists it has already started speaking to the French regulatory authorities.

Lastly, regarding the social consequences detailed in the Bouygues rejection, Altice said it has committed to the same practices deemed acceptable when it bought SFR, which it insists has gone well for everyone. Altice also listed a bunch of network improvement commitments it has made to the French government and its commitment to fully participate in the 700 MHz auction.

“Altice takes note of the decision of the Board of Directors of Bouygues and regrets that the Board has not once, either through its advisers or through its management teams, sought any details or explanations from Altice regarding the Offer before being presented to the Board,” concluded the riposte.

There is a distinct sense of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted with this Altice public statement. There would be no need to clarify press reports if it had offered this information in the first place and the assurances on regulatory and employment concerns were very vague. The Bouygues board are unlikely to suddenly change their minds upon reading these arguments so Altice is presumably trying to appeal directly to shareholders before considering an improved bid.

In other news Altice today announced a restructure involving a sequence of arcane corporate manoeuvres, resulting in the company apparently moving to the Netherlands, which it seems to think will bring significant business benefits.

“Pursuant to the Merger, the Group will benefit from a powerful equity acquisition currency without prejudicing voting control of the company’s founding shareholder group,” clarified Dexter Goei, CEO of the Altice Group. “This will further strengthen Altice’s position in the next phase of value-enhancing growth.”

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