PARIS (Reuters) - Altice NV (ATCA.AS), the fourth-biggest cable operator in the United States, said on Thursday it was considering an initial public offering (IPO) of a minority interest in its U.S. subsidiary Altice USA.
A listing would help Altice's founder, French billionaire Patrick Drahi, expand his budding U.S. cable empire by giving Altice USA public stock that could be used as currency to finance more acquisitions.
Reuters reported in October that Altice USA was drawing up plans for an IPO.
Altice USA was formed from the cable operators Suddenlink Communications and Cablevision Systems Corporation, which Netherlands-based Altice bought in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
"No decisions have been taken at this point on the structure or timing of any IPO, and no assurance can be given that an IPO will be pursued," the company said in a statement.
A spokesman was not immediately available to comments on the timing or size for the IPO.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in October that Altice USA might hire underwriters for the listing by January and could go public sometime next year, depending on market conditions. One of the sources said in October that the IPO could raise close to $2 billion.
Altice, which Drahi built into a telecoms and cable empire through debt-heavy acquisitions in Europe and Israel, entered the U.S. market last year by acquiring regional cable company Suddenlink for $9.1 billion.
A few months later, it extended its reach to 20 U.S. states by snapping up the country's fourth-largest operator, Cablevision, which provides cable and broadband services in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, for $17.7 billion.
A U.S. listing would allow Altice, which had 49.2 billion euros ($52.2 billion) of net debt as of Sept. 30, to keep expanding rapidly through acquisitions of mid-size players that should receive antitrust clearance, sources have said.
Taking Altice USA public would also allow other investors, including private equity firm BC Partners Ltd and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, to cash out in the future.
($1 = 0.9424 euros)
Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by David Clarke