Iliad Group owner Xavier Niel has joined the race to buy Portuguese telco Altice.

As reported by Bloomberg, Niel has reportedly joined the race to acquire Patrick Drahi's Portuguese telecoms operations.

X_Niel @Joel Saget AFP Photo_4.jpg.jpg
– Iliad/Joel Saget

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is also in the running to acquire Altice Portugal, while Warburg Pincus submitted a buyout offer of €6 billion ($6.6bn) last month.

Altice, which is owned by French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, is looking to ease its debt, which sits at $60 billion.

The company is open to selling its telecoms business and has recently spun off its French data center assets, forming a new company with more than 250 facilities in France, which was then sold to Morgan Stanley.

The company is selling 70 percent of the new company, UltraEdge, to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners (MSIP), a transaction which values UltraEdge at €764 million ($836.5m) and is expected to close in the first half of 2024.

The Portuguese unit of Atlice has also been separately looking to sell off its data center unit.

Altice Portugal has been grappling with a corruption probe, which led to the arrest of Drahi's fellow co-founder and former chief operating officer Armando Pereira. Drahi told investors in August that he felt "betrayed."

Last month, Iliad's Niel submitted a proposal to Vodafone to merge the two telcos in Italy, valuing Vodafone Italia at €10.45 billion ($11.44bn) in the offer.