PARIS (Reuters) – Here are five facts about Patrick Drahi, the cable magnate who announced on Tuesday he had raised his stake in BT to 18%, becoming the company’s top shareholder and drawing a defensive response from the British government.
* Born in Morocco, Drahi, 58, moved to France at the age of 15 and studied at Polytechnique in Paris, one of France’s most prestigious higher education institutions. He holds dual French and Israeli citizenship.
* In 2001 he created Altice, an Amsterdam-based holding company, and started buying up cable companies in France, Belgium and Portugal through a series of debt-fuelled deals, slowly gaining critical mass.
* By 2017, the company was carrying debt of 51 billion euros ($57.7 billion) — five times its core earnings. To ease investor concerns about the sustainability of the business, Drahi spun off the U.S. division, restructured debt and took the European arm private. But Altice’s U.S. shares are trading at less than half the $30 price of the 2017 IPO.
* Among recent deals, Drahi snapped up art auction house Sotheby’s in a deal worth $3.7 billion in 2019. In September this year, French satellite company Eutelsat rejected his 12.10 euros per share takeover offer.
* Drahi’s newly created vehicle Altice UK bought a 12.1% stake in BT in June, before raising it to 18% on Tuesday. Altice UK is owned by Next Alt, Drahi’s private holding, which also controls SFR, the second largest telecoms operator in France behind Orange.
($1 = 0.8842 euros)
(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Susan Fenton)