French telecoms group starts process of selling off non-core assets to pay down debt

Altice plans to sell off its business in the Dominican Republic as part of a wider debt-reduction plan, it emerged on Thursday.

The French telecoms group will sell its fixed and mobile service provider in the country via auction, the Financial Times reported, citing three unnamed sources.

The sources said the process is in its infancy and plans could still change. The paper did not provide any further details.

The news comes just days after Altice confirmed it is working on reducing its debt burden, a move that will include the sale of non-core assets, amongst other things.

On Monday the firm said it has begun the process that will see it dispose of certain assets in the first half of next year.

Altice has grown rapidly in recent years via a series of debt-backed acquisitions that have left it with a debt pile of €49.56 billion, as of the end of September.

Earlier this month it shuffled its management in a bid to effect a turnaround, with company founder and major shareholder Patrick Drahi returning as president and former chief executive Dexter Goei returning to the helm to replace departing CEO Michel Combes. The company announced further management changes at its Portugal Telecom business this week, naming CTO Alexandre Foseca as its new chief executive.

Altice bought the business now known as Altice Dominican Republic from Orange in late 2013, paying €1.1 billion.

The unit had 4.3 million residential customers as of the first quarter of this year and 476,000 business lines. Its fibre network covered half a million homes and businesses.

Last year Altice Dominican Republic posted turnover of €0.72 billion.

Altice also plans to sell off its towers business, and, according to two FT sources, it is seeking a buyer for a small business services provider in Switzerland that could bring in a couple of hundred million euros.