Altice's French and Portuguese towers are next up on the operator's selling spree, as the French telco reported its best mobile contract and fibre net additions in Europe in two years.

The telco, which announced this week it was selling its wholesale carrier unit after previously offloading its Swiss solutions and data centre subsidiary, is looking to quell fears about its debt position and strategy. Founder Patrick Drahi returned to lead the European business in November after the resignation of Michel Combes.

Details were scant about the infrastructure sale, which Altice described as "the largest portfolio ever to come to market in Europe". It owns around 10,000 sites in France and 3,000 in Portugal.

In France, like for like EBITDA increased by 2.2 percent to €1.10 billion although Q4 sales fell by 4.5 percent to €2.70 billion.

It said cost savings increased its margin by 2.7 percentage points to 40.6 percent.

The operator hailed net additions of 80,000 to its contract customer base, more than double the amount in Q4 2017 and its best performance in two years.

However, its total mobile base has fallen from 14.6 million to 14.4 million, as customers continue move away from pay as you go deals.

It has now passed almost 11 million homes with fibre, compared to 9.3 million homes a year ago. Net additions hit 69,000 during Q4, also its best performance in two years, thanks to "improved processes, more attractive offers and new retention policies".

There was worse news in Portugal where like for like operating income dropped 6.7 percent to €245 million and sales fell 1.8 percent to €536 million.

Altice said this reflected the loss of higher margin business in both consumer and enterprise.

However, like France, Altice hailed the performance of its fibre arm, with net adds of 43,000 setting a new record in that market.

More than four million homes have been passed with fibre, compared to 3.1 million in the fourth quarter 2016.

Overall, performance continued to be mitigated by its US arm. Across the Group, Q4 sales dropped 4.0 percent to €5.82 billion although adjusted EBITDA increased by 4.5 percent to €2.39 billion.

Looking at the entirety of 2017, sales were up 0.6 percent to €23.43 billion and EBITDA up 6.4 percent to €9.39 billion.

Dexter Goei, President of the Board of Directors at Altice Group, said: "Altice Europe has tremendous opportunities as we deliver on our operational aspirations, led by new management reporting to Altice founder Patrick Drahi. At the core of our strategy is the operational and financial turnaround in France and Portugal."

He added: "In 2018 and beyond, we will remain very focused on investing for growth in innovation, superior service and advanced networks to deliver a more robust and differentiated product portfolio to meet customers’ needs.”

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