January 31, 2014 / 10:55 AM / 4 years ago

Cable group Altice targets acquisitions after market debut

AMSTERDAM/PARIS (Reuters) - Cable group Altice ATC_w.AS has set its sights on further international expansion after raising 750 million euros ($1 billion) from its stock market debut on Friday.

Altice, built via a decade of acquisitions, is surfing a wave of investor interest in the European cable sector as a growing number of consumers turn to these companies for television and broadband at faster speeds and lower prices than from telecoms rivals.

Shares in French cable operator Numericable NUME.PA, which is 40 percent owned by Altice, have risen 10 percent since it went public in November.

The Altice listing, which it said was the largest by a cable operator in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, valued the company founded by entrepreneur Patrick Drahi at 5.7 billion euros.

The 750 million euros raised from new shares will be used to reduce debt as the company prepares to go on the acquisition trail.

“Our company is about to look at a lot of acquisitions in many countries,” majority owner Drahi told reporters at the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam, declining to comment specifically on the possibility of reviving talks with Vivendi (VIV.PA) over a potential merger with its SFR mobile phone business.

Altice Chief Executive Dexter Goei told reporters that the company sees opportunities in each of the nine countries and regions in which it operates.

    The company, which owns French and Belgian cable businesses and mobile operations in Israel, priced Europe’s first big stock market debut this year at 28.25 euros per share - just above the middle of its original range of 24.75 to 31.25 euros.

    The shares climbed by as much as 5.7 percent in early trade before drifting back to 29.03 by 1005 GMT, a 2.8 percent premium to the listing price.

    Drahi’s holding company Next LP will pocket 555 million euros from reducing its stake, taking the size of the offering to 1.3 billion euros.

    The total could rise to as much as 1.5 billion euros if banks exercise an over-allotment option, whereby extra shares can be sold if there is strong demand. That would put a maximum of 26.2 percent of the company in public hands.

    Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) acted as joint global coordinators for the sales. Credit Suisse CSGN.VX, Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Goldman Sachs, HSBC (HSBA.L) and Morgan Stanley were joint bookrunners.

    Writing by Kylie MacLellan in London; Editing by David Goodman

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