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More bad news for Altice.
Ratings agency S&P Global Ratings has revised its outlook for the telecoms and cable company from stable to negative, raising the prospect that its debt could soon be downgraded.
Altice held on to its B+ long-term credit rating, but the negative outlook implies at least a one in three chance that the rating will be cut in the next 12 months.
The company recently revised down its expectations for earnings growth in 2017 and founder Patrick Drahi reinstated himself as chairman of the group following the resignation of its chief executive.
S&P said on Thursday:
This, coupled with fierce competition and our view that the group’s differentiation strategy has yet to prove its effectiveness, has led us to lower our expectations of its EBITDA in France in 2018.
Altice’s shares have more than halved this month, wiping billions of euros off its market capitalisation. S&P noted that his has had “subsequent repercussions on credit market confidence in the group, despite its solid operating results in the US market, positive free cash flow generation prospects, and only moderate maturities through 2020.”
Altice has pledged to cut its debt pile by selling non-core assets and turning around operations in its largest market of France.
S&P said that it could downgrade Altice in 2018 “if management fails to improve operations in France, timely and sufficiently cut debt, and restore market confidence, or if we have renewed management and governance concerns.”