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Telco tycoon Patrick Drahi faces debt woes and aide’s arrest

Here are key facts about Patrick Drahi, the French-Israeli telecoms tycoon whose right-hand man is under house arrest in a corruption probe, and who needs to manage the mountain of debt he built his empire on at a time of increasing interest rates.

Drahi holds a call with Altice International’s debt investors at 1100 GMT.

  • Born in Morocco, Drahi, 59, moved to France at the age of 15 and studied at the Polytechnique in Paris, one of France’s most prestigious higher education institutions.
  • 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, progressively building a telecoms empire spanning from Israel and the United States to the Dominican Republic.
  • Drahi, who lives between Switzerland, the United States and Israel, controls France’s second-biggest telecoms firm SFR on top of the most-watched news channel in the country, BFM TV. He also owns the largest telecoms firm in Portugal.
  • Praised for his financial acumen, he suffered a fall from grace in 2017 when Altice Europe’s shares plummeted after a report signalled it would not grow in France, fuelling fears that his group would not be able to pay its huge debts.
  • 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.
  • By 2023, Altice’s combined debt, including its three units of Altice France, Altice International and Altice USA stood at around $60 billion.
  • Over the past years, Drahi has snapped up art auction house Sotheby’s in a deal worth $3.7 billion in 2019 and built up a 24.5% stake in BT through his Altice UK vehicle.
  • Altice UK is owned by Next Alt, Drahi’s private holding, which also controls SFR.
  • Altice’s co-founder Armando Pereira was placed under house arrest in Portugal last month while an investigation into alleged corruption at the group’s local subsidiary is conducted. Pereira has denied any wrongdoing. Altice launched an internal investigation. Drahi himself is yet to speak on this.
  • Drahi, and some of his management team, including some country CEOs, will host investor meetings in London and New York in September. Altice’s debt prices trade at stressed levels, having come under further pressure since Pereira’s detention in July.


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