Cable giant in France lines up November float

FRENCH cable operator Numericable is planning an initial public offering (IPO) that could value the firm at over €5bn (£4.2bn).

The current owners – Cinven, Carlyle and Altice Group – are expected to ride the current wave of investor interest in European cable companies all the way to an IPO. Just last week Vodafone bought Kabel Deutschland for €7.7bn.

Numericable will hold a conference for analysts on Thursday in Paris and is expected to hold investor roadshows in late September leading to a public offering in November.

French radio and website BFM first reported details of the analyst conference to prepare for the IPO.

Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan are said to be leading the operation for Numericable.

The group is aiming for a valuation of eight to nine times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda), reports stated yesterday.

In comparison, the six listed cable companies in Europe had an average valuation of 8.4 times estimated Ebitda for 2013 and 8.1 times 2014 Ebitda, according to analysts at Espirito Santo investment bank.

Numericable has reportedly secured permission from its lenders to merge its enterprise unit Completel into its consumer business before launching the float.

The cable operator has around €2.3bn of debt and Completel holds debt of approximately €450m.

Numericable competes for broadband and TV customers with market leader Orange, Iliad, and Vivendi's SFR.

A merger with Vivendi’s SFR, France’s second-biggest mobile operator, was on the cards for Numericable last year but the talks fell apart over valuation and opposition from Vivendi’s largest shareholder Vincent Bollore.

Some analysts believe that Numericable remains an attractive takeover target for SFR or third-place mobile operator Bouygues as both seek to bolster their broadband services to blunt fierce competition in the French market.

Numericable covers 9.9m homes, roughly one third of households in France, offering TV, internet and phone packages.

A spokesman for Numericable declined to comment.