In an interview in FigaroThe head of the group returns to the corruption scandal that affected some of his senior executives.
The investigation into suspicions of corruption affecting the Altice Group (owner of BFMTV and BFM Business in particular) that were exposed by Portuguese courts this summer does not put the company at risk, says Arthur Dreyfus, CEO of Altice France in an interview with Figaro.
“The first thing I can tell you is that the group is stronger than it was before July. Since this came to light, we have taken a series of decisions to protect the interests of Altice. We have reviewed the entire procurement process, terminated contracts with relevant suppliers and suspended company employees. The situation is under control. On the scale of Altice France, the eight suppliers targeted 2% of the volume of purchases. There was no operational or commercial impact for the group”, explains the manager.
“You only betray yourself.”
He notes that the internal investigation led to the suspension of “fifteen employees, managers, or even administrators in different countries, and most of them are employees at the level of the procurement department.” “These investigations are intended to last several more weeks. We will have more elements during the fall. Our internal investigation is taking place in parallel with the legal process in Portugal which we are not replacing,” continues Arthur Dreyfus.
Referring to the case of Armando Pereira, Patrick Drahe’s longtime right-hand man, he said: “Only you betrayed you. And again, it’s not us who say it, it’s Portuguese justice. Altice is a victim in this.” The case and the first injured person is the owner of Altice.”
No, BFMTV is not for sale
The case revives the controversy over Altice’s ability to repay €24 billion in debt in the context of rising interest rates. But for Arthur Dreyfuss, “one area of expertise that Altice has recognized for more than twenty years is debt management. A few months ago, all analysts applauded the group’s sense of anticipation when we refinanced more than €11.5 billion of debt. It should We remember that the group’s debt is at 85% at a stable rate, and we are approaching the next steps in a very calm way, and as Patrick Drahe told investors on August 7 and 8, the priority today is deleveraging, and it continues.”
This involves the sale of “non-strategic” assets, but while some observers talk about the sale of the media division (BFM and RMC), the manager ignores this possibility and answers clearly “no”: “since the acquisition in 2015” of NextRadioTV Group, with BFMTV and RMC on the face In particular, we multiplied our audience by three, and our results by five. Our sales have increased by 70%,” recalls Arthur Dreyfuss.
And I will add that this pole “always” aroused signs of interest. However, to the question of BFMTV for sale, the manager replied “No. We love BFM and the entire media department. At the beginning of August again Patrick Drahe was very clear. They are not for sale”.