Numericable owners say 'non' to exit plan suggestion

6 May 2010

Private-equity groups Cinven, The Carlyle Group and Altice – the owners of France’s largest cable operator by subscribers and revenues Numericable – say they have no plans to exit the venture in the near future, Bloomberg reports citing the cableco’s CEO Pierre Danon. In an interview the Numericable official confirmed that the private equity firms are committed to the operator at least for the immediate future. ‘We have very good shareholders, and they are in for the medium term,’ he said.

Pierre Danon’s announcement comes amid a wave of recent moves by private equity groups to dispose of shares in cable ventures. In January this year BC Partners and Apollo Management disposed of Germany’s second-largest cable operator by subscribers, Unitymedia, to Liberty Global Inc for USD2.6 billion. More recently, in March, Providence Equity Partners offloaded a stake in Kabel Deutschland Holding, Germany’s largest cable company, via an initial public offering.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Numericable (and sister firm Completel) posted revenue of USD1.7 billion in 2009, up 1.7 year-on-year, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 4.5% to USD799.9 million. However, compared with rival ADSL operators, Numericable is limited by a relatively small (in geographical terms) network. The cablco’s network is only available to around 9.4 million households, compared with France Telecom’s practically 100% national coverage. The company is working to improve its network, and yesterday said that about one million homes in Paris will be connected to ultra-high speed broadband in 2010. As it stands, Carlyle and Cinven each own 37.9% of Numericable, with Altice holding a further 24.3%.