February 1, 2018 / 4:09 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Altice executive Turrini to leave debt-ridden group

* Departure comes after ousting of former CEO Combes

* Turrini was in charge of lobbying, public policy

* Top management now led by Altice’s old guard (Adding details, analyst quote)

PARIS, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Executive Regis Turrini will leave French telecoms group SFR and its parent company Altice <ATCA.AS , a source with knowledge of the matter said, as the debt-ridden group pushes on with restructuring aimed at improving its financial performance.

As SFR’s secretary general and Altice’s head of regulation and strategy, Turrini was in charge of lobbying and public relations with authorities.

He should leave at the start of March, added the source, confirming an earlier report in French paper Le Figaro. The 58-year-old executive, who previously led France’s state holding agency APE, had joined Altice in 2016.

His departure further streamlines the group’s top management, composed of the the same old guard that followed billionaire and majority-owner Patrick Drahi in his spree of acquisitions that turned Altice into a multinational group.

“In the telecoms sector, it’s important to maintain a lobbying capacity and be close to regulators and politicians,” said Thomas Coudry, an analyst at Bryan, Garnier & Co.

“The only risk I see is that they could weaken that capacity with that regard,” he said. “But they have more urgent things to care about right now.”

Turrini was part of the team of former Altice chief executive Michel Combes, who was ousted last year by Altice, following a set of disappointing results and a share price slump.

Drahi has since announced plans to cut debt and improve Altice’s performance, including spinning off the cable and telecom company’s U.S. arm and prioritising efforts to turn around its European operations including SFR. (Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and David Evans)

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