* Not preparing any equity or equity-linked issuance
* No margin loans problems
* Reiterates asset sales plans to cut debt
* Eyes possible asset sales as early as H1 2018
* Shares down around 60 pct since start of 2017
PARIS, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Debt-ridden telecoms and cable group Altice said on Monday it was not preparing to raise cash by means of any equity issue, adding it had no margin loans problems and was working on an asset sale programme to cut its debt.
Altice’s shares have slumped since it reported weak third-quarter results on Nov. 2, which prompted the company’s billionaire founder, Patrick Drahi, to oust chief executive Michel Combes.
Altice has grown massively in the United States and Europe through debt-fuelled acquisitions, which have raised the weight of its net debt to more than five times its annual core operating profit.
The stock, down around 60 percent since the start of 2017, fell to its lowest level since April 2014 last week. That has raised concerns that Altice may need to raise cash, but Altice denied this was the case.
“Altice confirms that it is not in preparation of a cash raising by means of an equity- or equity-linked issuance and has no intention to pursue such action within the group including Altice USA,” the company said in a statement.
The company also said it had no margin loan problems, and that it had a strong liquidity position. Altice’s debt stood at around 49.6 billion euros ($58.2 billion) by the third quarter, while its stock market value is roughly 10 billion euros.
“Altice confirms that the Altice Corporate Financing facility with relationship banks at group level is guaranteed by Altice and does not have maintenance covenants or share price triggers,” it said.
“Altice confirms that it has no margin loan exposure with respect to its ownership in Altice USA,” it added.
Last week, Drahi said Altice would shift its focus away from acquisitions and over towards debt reduction and customer satisfaction after its weak third-quarter results.
Altice reiterated it had identified non-core assets that could be sold, including its portfolio of telecoms towers, and that it had started processes for possible sales as early as the first half of 2018.
$1 = 0.8524 euros Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Stephen Coates