By Liana B. Baker
(Reuters) – Netherlands-based telecom company Altice NV
It was the Dutch company’s second multibillion-dollar U.S. cable acquisition in less than a year.
Altice now has 4.6 million U.S. customers but is still only the fourth-biggest U.S. cable provider, lagging operators including Comcast Corp
The U.S. strategy is the latest push for Altice founder and controlling shareholder Patrick Drahi, a French-Israeli billionaire who built a telecom and cable empire via debt-fueled acquisitions in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Israel.
Altice said its immediate focus will be on integrating its newly acquired cable systems. Then it may look to expand.
“We will continue to grow through acquisitions, either by buying more cable in other geographies in the country or by looking at other revenue streams,” Dexter Goei, chairman and chief executive of Altice USA, said in an interview.
“There’s a lot of large players and a lot of medium-size players such as ourselves who may look to partner up or do things,” he said.
Altice acquired U.S. regional cable company Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion last year, its first foray into the United States, which now comprises 40 percent of the international cable group’s business.
Goei, a former investment banker, added that it could look for acquisitions outside of cable in areas such as telecommunications, technology and even media. He added that Altice will also try to expand organically and has no active plans for deals under way.
Altice, which has a reputation of aggressive cost cutting abroad, agreed not to lay off any customer-facing employees for four years in New York and received final regulatory approval from the New York State Public Service Commission last week.
By buying Cablevision, Altice adds a dense market in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, giving it service in 20 U.S. states.
The sale includes other Cablevision assets including the News 12 networks; Newsday, a daily newspaper; amNewYork, a free daily paper; and a publisher of weekly community papers.
Goei said the company has no plans to sell these assets and has experience as a publisher and owner of media assets in its international markets.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Matthew Lewis)