KPN’s iBasis sale to Tofane ‘to be complete by year end’ as Altice deal expanded

Alexandre Pébereau adds mobile services as Tofane Global completes acquisition of Altice’s wholesale voice unit

Alexandre Pébereau’s Tofane Global has completed its acquisition of Altice’s wholesale voice business – and the deal has been extended to include mobile voice. A further deal, to acquire iBasis from KPN, is likely to be completed by the end of 2018, Pébereau told Capacity this week.

Both deals were announced in March for undisclosed prices, but the Altice acquisition has been significantly expanded since the original announcement, Pébereau said.

“Our target is to build a true unified communications operator and to build services at a global level,” said the former Orange International Carrier CEO, adding that Tofane Global “wants to become more and more of a challenge to BICS”, naming the offshoot of Belgium’s Proximus that competes in the international services market. Patrick George, a senior advisor to Tofane, was a VP at BICS for more than eight years.

Altice sold off its wholesale arm – covering France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic – to Tofane after over-expanding in both Europe and North America. Since then the group, led by Patrick Drahi, has demerged its businesses on each side of the Atlantic.

The French business now part of Tofane is the wholesale arm of French mobile operator SFR. The Portuguese operator was similarly the wholesale arm of the former Portugal Telecom, now PT Telecom after Drahi dropped a plan to rename everything as Altice.

The deals mean that Tofane is “now the ninth player in the voice business”, Pébereau told Capacity. “We carried 14 billion minutes last year, worth €500 million.”

Economies of scale means Tofane will be able to compete in providing services to telecoms carriers and digital players, he said. “We are showing to all customers and prospective partners that we are a credible operator, and will be able to give them the priority they cannot get from another telecoms group. We have no telcos among our shareholders.”

Tofane is financed from independent shareholders, he said. “This has confirmed to the industry that there is more appetite for what we are doing.”

Tofane’s acquisition of KPN subsidiary iBasis has to go through a number of regulators, he told Capacity, but he hopes this will be complete by the end of the year. Asked if he was looking for further acquisitions, he said: “It’s so important to concentrate on the current deals and not on future ones.”