January 9, 2018 / 8:36 AM / a year ago

Altice NV shares surge on plans to spin off U.S operation

PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in telecoms and cable group Altice (ATCA.AS) (ATUS.N) rose on Tuesday after Altice said its board had approved plans to spin-off its U.S. unit from its European operation.

Altice NV shares, which had slumped by around 54 percent last year mainly due to concerns over the company’s debt burden, were up 9.2 percent at 10.31 euros in early session trading.

Altice said late on Monday that the restructuring was intended to simplify a sprawling communications empire that executives said encompassed two distinct markets - the United States and Europe.

The U.S. business would be shielded from concerns about the European operation, and it would make a parting $1.5 billion dividend payment that would improve Altice NV’s balance sheet.

Analysts at brokerage Raymond James said the move could also make the Altice European arm a possible acquisition target for rival French telecoms companies.

“A separate listing of Altice Europe makes a sale of this asset easier, to Bouygues (BOUY.PA) or Iliad (ILD.PA) for instance, which could both consider market consolidation synergies in France, in our view,” Raymond James wrote in a research note.

“However, we doubt that the intention to sell is unlikely to be reached in the medium-term, as this would require a material discount to the price paid for these assets,” it added.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Leigh Thomas

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