Altice lifted by report of Dominican Republic business sale

PARIS (Reuters) - Telecoms and cable group Altice ATCA.ASATUS.N, which is trying to cut debts of around 50 billion euros ($59 billion), is looking to sell its telecoms network in the Dominican Republic, the Financial Times reported.

Altice shares rose 6 percent to 8.02 euros at 0824 GMT following the report on Thursday, although the stock remains down by nearly 60 percent since the start of 2017.

A spokesman for Altice declined to comment on the FT report, which said the sale of Altice Dominican Republic is still at an early stage and plans could change.

Altice’s billionaire founder and majority shareholder Patrick Drahi has pledged to sell assets to cut Altice’s debts.

This week, Altice reiterated it had identified assets that could be sold, including its portfolio of telecoms towers, and that sales could start as early as the first half of 2018.

Weak third-quarter results this month prompted Drahi, whose media empire includes telecoms company SFR, newspaper Liberation and BFM TV, to oust chief executive Michel Combes.

Altice’s woes have led to hedge funds selling shares in Altice’s U.S. unit, although ABN AMRO analysts put a “buy” rating on Altice, saying debt worries might be overdone.

“35 billion euros of 48 billion euros of net debt have been refinanced in the last year, and we see neither a breach of covenant nor a share issue looming,” ABN AMRO analysts said.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith