Patrick Drahi, the billionaire owner of European telecoms group Altice, has explained why he didn't bid for Time Warner Cable. As Sonia Legg reports he says his company lacked management resources to digest such a big deal in a market it had only recently entered.
He runs one of Europe's biggest telecoms firms. But billionaire Patrick Drahi could have been even more influential if his European group Altice - already owner of SFR and Numericable - had bid for Time Warner Cable. The Franco-Israeli businessman told French politicians he met with TWC's chief executive Rob Marcus last week. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALTICE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, PATRICK DRAHI, SAYING: "The reason we did not buy Time warner was not a financial one, it's a question of management resources. It's not going from 30 to 70 billion of debts that worries me, it's going from 35,000 employees to 120,000 employees. I decided I did not have the management resources to take on such a responsibility and that's the most important word for me." In the end America's third largest cable group Charter Communications agreed to buy the number two operator TWC for $56 billion. It's backed by Drahi's one time mentor - now rival John Malone. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALTICE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, PATRICK DRAHI, SAYING: "This was not about debt or because I didn't have the funds, I did have them. It's not a secret, a number of important French and U.S. banks were supporting me and some that were neither American nor French." Drahi is making his foray in the U.S in a smaller way by buying the regional cable firm Suddenlink Communication for $9.1 billion. Gemma Godfrey from Brooks MacDonald says that won't be the end of consolidation in the industry (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY AT BROOKS MACDONALD ASSET MANAGEMENT, GEMMA GODFREY, SAYING: "We are seeing this rise of technology which is revolutionising the industry and making it far more competitive so there's this battle for market share that's out there. At the same time especially within Europe the market is still very fragmented so there is a lot of potential for further consolidation going forward." In the past 18 months Altice has spent 36-billion euros buying up smaller players. And that may not be the end of the spending spree - U.S. firms Cox Communication, Cablevision and Mediacom are all thought to be possible targets.