A&O, Ropes and Latham advise on Altice’s €17bn acquisition of SFR

Allen & Overy, Ropes & Gray and Latham & Watkins have scored instructions on Altice’s acquisition of France’s second-biggest telecom operator SFR.

Having been engaged in a month-long bidding war with rival Bouygues, cable and mobile services provider Altice finally received the nod from Vivendi to acquire SFR, marking the biggest leveraged finance deal since 2008.

Vivendi’s board unanimously voted in favour of a bid from Altice that includes €13.5bn (£11.1bn) in cash, and a 20 per cent stake in the new group formed by merging Altice’s French cable operator Numericable Group with SFR. Vivendi said the total deal could be worth €17bn.

Altice intends to fund the acquisition through a combination of US and European high yield debt, covenant lite loans, revolving loans and an equity rights issuance. The total cash consideration is more than €15bn (£12.4bn), constituting the largest leveraged finance deal in Europe since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. 

Ropes & Gray advised longstanding client Altice on financing aspects of the deal. The firm picked up the client in 2012, when former Liberty Global treasurer Dennis Okhuijsen left to become the company’s CFO. The US firm has since advised it on a number of transactions, including its IPO in January 2014.

This time, the firm fielded a team led by London finance partner Mike Kazakevich. He was assisted by finance partner Mike Goetz and tax partner Brenda Coleman, alongside a raft of associates including Pinar Celebi, Caroline Charmhali, Sara Clevering, Lidia Fesshazion, Alex Griffiths, Christopher Hastings, Aditya Khanna, Bettina Kloubert, Ilce Kozaroski, Benoit Lavigne, Serge Martyn, and Minal Purohit.

“It is a very large financing being marketed both in the US and Europe,” said Kazakevich. “Altice and Numericable are looking to tap several pools of capital in both dollars and euros, with a package that will include high yield bonds and covenant lite term loans.”

Altice drafted in longstanding M&A adviser, Parisian firm Franklin, to advise on the deal led by M&A partner Alexandre Marque.

Vivendi instructed a team of Allen & Overy lawyers in Paris, led by M&A partner Marcus Billam. Partners Frédéric Moreau and Frédéric Jungels also advised on M&A alongside senior consultant Catherine Maison-Blanche, counsel Jean-Baptiste de Martigny, and associates Frédérique Dugué, Anne-Caroline Payelle, Ioana Nicolas, Flora Leon-Serviere and Alexandre Durand.  Partner Roderick Cork, counsel Jean-Christophe David and associate Yasmine Boïk-Bouhedjar advised Vivendi on the financing aspects.

Meanwhile, Latham & Watkins advised the banks on financing aspects of the deal, led by London-based finance partners Dan Maze and Scott Colwell.