Altice USA, which provides U.S. cable and internet services under the Optimum brand (and which bought Cablevision in 2016), may have some rocky waters ahead. As per Elsa Keslassy and Todd Spangler of Variety, Altice USA chairman and co-CEO of France-based Altice Group Alexandre Fonseca is stepping away from all of his roles with the companies (Altice USA was spun off from Altice Group in 2018) around a corruption investigation in Portugal. He’s also resigned from the Altice USA board, and they’ve named Altice USA CEO Denis Mathew as his successor there and elected Mathew as board chairman.
— Todd Spangler (@xpangler) July 17, 2023
This is quite a big deal for the U.S. multichannel video provider scene, as Altice USA was estimated to have the ninth-most pay-TV subscribers (2.4 million) in March of this year (per a Leichtmann Research Group report). That put them right behind Cox (3 million) and ahead of Dish (2.3 million) and Fubo (1.4 million). Here’s more from that Variety piece on what’s going on with Fonseca and this investigation:
Fonseca’s stepping back from his duties comes after Armando Pereira, the co-founder of Altice Group, Patrick Drahi’s leading cable and telecom company, spent the weekend in custody as part of an investigation on suspected corruption, fiscal fraud and money laundering, according to French reports. Fonseca is also targeted in the investigation, per Le Figaro newspaper.
Altice Portugal confirmed on July 13 it was one of the companies searched by the Portuguese authorities in compliance with a warrant issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an ongoing investigation directed against individuals as well as entities outside Altice Group. “Altice Portugal is providing all the cooperation requested and will always be available for any clarification,” the company said.
Altice Group said Fonseca has suspended all of his “executive and non-executive roles” for the company in several geographies. “With this decision, Alexandre Fonseca is looking to fully protect and safeguard the Altice Group’s best interests and all its brands, in an ongoing public process, where allegedly, there are facts under investigation which occurred in the timeframe where he was the CEO of Altice Portugal,” Altice Group said in a statement Monday. “This posture from Alexandre Fonseca comes as responsible on the path to clarification of the truth.”
On July 15, Fonseca resigned from the board of Altice USA, according to an SEC filing Monday. On July 16, the board appointed Altice USA CEO Dennis Mathew as a director of the company effective immediately and elected Mathew as chairman.
This is far from the first investigation into suspected corruption and financial fraud in the TV world. FIFA corruption, often involving broadcast deals, has been the subject of multiple documentaries, and this year saw a notable trial of former Fox international executives, including allegations about 2026 FIFA World Cup rights (not the first allegation of bribery there). One of the companies in question in that saga was partly owned by Fox and DirecTV and has been the subject of investigations for almost a decade. And European investigations of sports rights have included raids at IMG (now Endeavor) and Ziggo Sport. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s unclear if the Altice case has anything in particular to do with sports, but there’s definitely a corporate impact on Altice here, and that may have implications for their North American plans going forward.