Patrick Drahi, the billionaire founder and controlling shareholder of Altice International, publicly addressed the corruption allegations that have recently surfaced involving the company’s Portuguese operations.
Speaking during a Q2 2023 call for debt investors, Drahi expressed shock and disappointment over the allegations and stated that if proven true, he feels “betrayed and deceived.”
The corruption probe, which came to light last month, centres around procurement activities within Altice’s Portuguese operations. Drahi’s remarks mark his first public comments since the scandal emerged, and they shed light on his personal sentiments regarding the situation.
Drahi affirmed that Altice International has taken immediate action in response to the allegations. Internal investigations have been launched to uncover the truth, and swift measures have been implemented to protect the company from potential harm. He emphasised that the company is dedicated to understanding the full scope of the issue and addressing it appropriately.
While the initial focus of the investigation is on Altice’s operations in Portugal, Drahi disclosed that the company has identified other entities beyond Portugal that engaged with the suppliers mentioned in the allegations. However, he clarified that the suspected corruption only affects a small fraction of the company’s global purchasing expenditures, primarily concentrated in technical procurement.
In response to the investigation, Altice International has suspended several employees, including Armando Pereira, a co-founder and a key associate of Drahi.
Pereira is under house arrest as the investigation unfolds. Altice USA, a branch formed through acquisitions, has also taken similar measures and even appointed a new chief procurement officer.
Drahi assured investors that the ongoing investigation will not impact Altice International’s financial stability or guidance for the foreseeable future. He reiterated his belief in the company’s internal controls and management teams while acknowledging the negative impact the situation has had on the company’s reputation.
“It’s very unpleasant to see the word ‘corruption’ next to the name of our group and, most of the time, next to my name,” said Drahi.
To address investor concerns and provide further clarity, Drahi and the Altice International management team have announced plans to host investor meetings in London and New York in September. These meetings will serve as a platform to discuss the steps being taken to resolve the issue and regain stakeholders’ trust.
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