A French entrepreneur is intent on a multi-billion dollar dealmaking spree in the US

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Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Patrick Drahi, the billionaire founder of Dutch telecoms company Altice, is back on the acquisition trail.

The communications giant, which raised $1.9 billion in an IPO of its US arm earlier this summer, is reportedly weighing a bid for Charter Communications.

After buying Cablevision for $17.7 billion last year to become the 4th largest cable provider in the country, Altice USA could rise to number 3 with an acquisition of Charter, only behind Time Warner and Comcast.

Back in Europe, Altice has quickly bought up competitors like France’s SFR and Portugal’s PT. Last month, Altice bought Dutch video ad tech startup, Teads, for $307 million.

“My vision is to do the same in the U.S., but bigger,” Altice CEO Drahi told the Wall Street Journal back in 2015, and so far it looks like things are working out.

Here’s everything you need to know about the billionaire behind some of the biggest telecom deals of this decade.

Note: Lucinda Shen contributed to an earlier version of this post.


Drahi was born in 1963 in Casablanca, Morocco to a two math teachers, both Moroccan Jews. He used to grade the exams his parents brought home, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Casablanca
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: The Wall Street Journal


At 15, Drahi moved to Montpellier, France.

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Montpellier, France
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vasse nicolas,antoine/Flickr

Source: The Wall Street Journal


He graduated from the elite university École Polytechnique and École Nationale Supérieure de Télécommunications de Paris, with his postgraduate degree coming in optics and electronics.

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Patrick Drahi’s yearbook photo.
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Collections École Polytechnique/Courtesy

Drahi would meet his wife, Lina Drahi, at a college party in the late 80s. An hour into meeting her, he proposed marriage — she said yes. They have four kids.

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YouTube/GHEpis

Source: The Wall Street Journal


His first job was at Dutch electronics company, Philips NV, heading international marketing for the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia and Asia in satellite and cable TV.

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The logo of Philips is seen at the company’s entrance in Brussels
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Thomson Reuters

He then flew to the US in hopes of finding something bigger— he drove around in a rented car, and looked for investors such as Bill Daniels. “It was the Wild West for me. Those US cable investors were icons,” Drahi told The Wall Street Journal.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


After a stint working for Kinnevik-Millsat and working as a consultant, he founded two cable companies: Sud Cable Services in 2004 and Mediareseaux in 1995.

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Sailors in the US navy dig up space for electric cables.
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Wikimedia Commons

He sold Mediareseaux to John Malone-owned US company UPC in 1999, and stayed on advising the company on M&A for a year.

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John Malone
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REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

In 2002, he created Altice. He snapped up telecommunications companies in Israel, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Numericable —Altice’s French subsidiary was also created.

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Drahi, executive chairman of cable and mobile telecoms company Altice and founder of Numericable, leaves a news conference in Paris
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Thomson Reuters

In 2013, he created I24, a news channel broadcasting in English, French, and Arabic.

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Drahi, Franco-Israeli businessman and founder of Numericable, poses during a roadshow for the Israel-based broadcast news channel i24 News in Paris
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Thomson Reuters

Altice carried out an initial public offering in 2014 in Europe

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Euronext NV in Amsterdam.
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Wikimedia Commons

Drahi bought French telecommunications company, SFR later that year for $23 billion. Then he acquired assets in Brazil from Portugal Telecom for $8.1 billion in December.

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Patrick Drahi, Franco-Israeli businessman, Executive Chairman of cable and mobile telecoms company Altice and founder of Numericable arrives to attend a hearing at the French National Assembly in Pari
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Thomson Reuters

He even tried to acquire Time Warner Cable in 2015 — though that proposed deal fell through.

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Joshua Lott/Reuters

In May, Drahi cemented a $7.9 billion deal to acquire Cequel Communication, otherwise known as Suddenlink Communications.

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Reuters

In 2015, he kept the acquisition ball rolling, buying Cablevision for $17 billion and becoming the fourth largest US cable operator in the process.

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Cablevision and Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan appears at Allman Brothers Band news conference in New York
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Thomson Reuters

Altice USA had a $1.9 billion IPO in June 2017. The offering was one of the most-watched IPO’s of the summer after Snap, and shares were up 5% on the first day of trading.


Two years later, he’s still not done. CNBC reported in August 2017 that Altice was working on a bid for Charter Communications, which could bring Altice USA to roughly 45 million subscribers across the country.

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Getty / Bryan Bedder / Stringer

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