SFR squeeze-out bid from Altice is a 'victory' for minorities – activist CIAM Story
by William Mace
SFR Group [EPA:SFR] activist investor CIAM has claimed Altice’s [AMS:ATCT] EUR 34.50 squeeze-out offer as a “victory for minority shareholders”, according to CIAM Managing Partner Anne-Sophie D’Andlau.
Altice announced on Thursday morning (10 August) that it had acquired 95.9% of SFR’s share capital and would therefore launch a buy-out offer followed by a squeeze-out for the remaining shares.
SFR’s stock closed at EUR 31.45 per share on Wednesday, but shot up 9% on news of the offer to EUR 34.35 per share on Thursday afternoon.
The company will file the offer with the French market regulator Autorité des marchés financiers’ (AMF) in September.
“We note that the offered price is much higher than the price we challenged when the first offer was announced in September 2016,” D’Andlau told this news service. “From this point of view, this is a victory for minority shareholders,” she added.
Asked whether CIAM would accept the squeeze-out, D’Andlau said all of its options were open at this stage.
On 5 September last year, Altice launched an all-share take-out offer for the 22.25% of SFR shares that it did not own, but faced substantial opposition.
It offered eight new Altice shares in exchange for five SFR shares, corresponding to EUR 24.02 per SFR share, based on Altice’s closing share price on 15 September 2016 of EUR 15.01, according to this news service’s analysis.
The offer was eventually deemed non-compliant by the AMF and Altice subsequently began buying shares off-market.
CIAM anticipated the squeeze-out, telling this news service in December that when the offer came the fund would look very closely at its appropriateness and reserve its rights to challenge the offer in court.
In the meantime, CIAM publicised a campaign to have Altice pay SFR around EUR 1bn for the right to rebrand its businesses.
Speaking today, D’Andlau said that CIAM always considered that SFR should be delisted if Altice wanted to impose a change in the name of the SFR brand or at some point charge management fees.
CIAM would not speculate as to whether the AMF would accept the latest offer.