Numericable-SFR to Pay $2.9 Billion Dividend Funded by Borrowing

Numericable-SFR SAS, the French cable and phone-service provider controlled by billionaire Patrick Drahi, plans to borrow money to help pay out a 2.5 billion-euro ($2.9 billion) dividend that will effectively transfer cash to its parent company, Altice.

The move will require borrowing at least 1.6 billion euros, Numericable-SFR said in a statement late Wednesday. The rest will be funded with cash on hand. It will allow Altice, which holds 78 percent of the company, to fund its purchase of a further stake in Numericable agreed with Vivendi SA earlier this year, according to a spokesman.

Cable tycoon Drahi’s Altice took over SFR last year and merged it with Numericable to add wireless services.

"Numericable-SFR is taking advantage of favorable market conditions to improve its balance sheet efficiency," the company, based in Champs-sur-Marne near Paris, said in the statement. The proposed payout will be 5.70 euros per ordinary share. It will take place within 30 days after a scheduled Dec. 15 shareholder meeting.

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