Saudi Telecom, Iliad, Warburg Advance in Bidding for Altice’s Portuguese Assets

(Bloomberg) — Saudi Telecom Co. and French telecom billionaire Xavier Niel’s Iliad SA are among suitors that have progressed in the bidding for Altice’s Portuguese assets, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

Warburg Pincus — which has teamed up with buyout firm Zeno Partners and former Credit Suisse Group AG Chairman António Horta-Osório — has also been invited to the second round of bidding, the people said. Several private equity firms that had initially looked at the business, including Apollo Global Management Inc. and CVC Capital Partners, are no longer in the running, the people said. 

Tycoon Patrick Drahi is hoping to fetch as much as €8 billion ($8.6 billion) to €10 billion for Altice Portugal, though potential bidders are struggling to meet that expectation, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. 

Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a deal. Representatives for Altice, Apollo, CVC, Iliad and members of the Warburg Pincus consortium declined to comment. Saudi Telecom didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

Drahi is selling assets to pay down some of the $60 billion debt pile that he amassed through years of acquisitions. Altice’s assets in Portugal include the MEO carrier — which offers fixed-line, wireless and pay-TV services in the country — as well as a stake in a fiber-optic network it jointly owns with Morgan Stanley’s infrastructure arm. 

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