After four straight quarters of broadband subscriber losses, a 38% decline in its stock price and the possible sale of its former Suddenlink Communications systems, Altice USA said it has named a new CEO -- Comcast executive Dennis Mathew -- while its longtime chief executive Dexter Goei becomes executive chairman.
The move will become effective as of October 3. Mathew is a 17-year veteran of the telecom industry, and has served in several operational roles at Comcast over the years. According to Altice USA, Mathew was most recently senior VP of its Freedom Region (Southeast Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Northern Delaware) responsible for strategic, financial, and operational performance at those systems. He earlier served as SVP for its Western New England Region (Connecticut, Vermont, Western Massachusetts, and areas of New York and New Hampshire) and has extensive experience in running and transforming cable businesses.
“I am honored to accept the role of CEO at this important juncture for Altice USA,” Mathew said in a press release. “As Altice USA advances its position as a converged fixed and wireless player, I see immense potential to further connect with and serve customers in new ways while elevating the company as the connectivity provider of choice. I look forward to leading such an innovative company that has the right vision and long-term strategy centered on investments in fiber infrastructure and a superior customer experience.”
Mathew will be based in Altice USA’s Long Island City, New York headquarters.
“I am pleased to welcome someone of Dennis’ caliber and mindset to Altice USA,” Altice USA founder and chairman Patrick Drahi said in a press release. “He has an impressive track record at Comcast, driving transformation and success in highly competitive markets and redefining the role of telecommunications services for customers through a superior service experience, all of which will serve us well. With our fiber network deployment well underway, I am confident that Dennis is the right leader to build on the momentum we have made as we bring the most advanced fiber broadband services to our customers across the country. Dennis’ leadership approach, along with his commitment to our people, our customers, and our communities, will have a tremendous impact on Altice USA today and into the future.”
Goei, who intends to return to Europe with his family and helped in the selection of a new CEO, was Altice USA’s first CEO, taking over the company that was formed when European telecom giant Altice N.V., burst on the U.S. cable scene after its purchases of Suddenlink Communications and Cablevision Systems. Goei, a longtime Altice N.V., executive, was tasked with implementing its parent’s strict cost cutting strategy, steering the operations to an initial public offering in June 2017.
For a while, the strategy worked -- in 2019 Altice USA was one of the top performers in the cable business. But a footprint that was largely saturated -- its New York systems had some of the highest broadband penetration in the industry -- stiff competition from Verizon Fios (which operated in about two-thirds of its footprint) and the pandemic took its toll on subscriber growth. Altice USA lost 13,000 broadband customers in 2021 -- the only major cable operator to do so -- and has lost more than 50,000 high-speed data customers in the first half of 2022.
In August, Goei acknowledged that the company was seeking a buyer for its Suddenlink systems, with some reports speculating that it expected $20 billion from a sale. While no deal appears imminent, most analysts believe that Suddenlink will attract considerably less. .
Drahi praised Goei for his stewardship of the assets, adding that the executive “has effectuated a business and cultural transformation at Altice USA over the past seven years, building the company into what it is today with passionate employees who are committed to our customers and to each other. Given his intention to return to Europe with his family, Dexter has been involved in our search for a new CEO and I am grateful for his partnership to ensure Altice USA has the best leader to advance the company into its next phase of growth. I have the highest respect for Dexter as a business partner and confidant and am pleased that he has agreed to serve as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors while also supporting Dennis in his transition to CEO and working on key strategic initiatives.”
As executive chairman, Goei will support Mathew in the transition and work on key strategic initiatives.
“Leading Altice USA has been the most rewarding experience in my career,” Goei said in a press release. “From our fiber network deployment and launch of multi-gig fiber broadband offerings to our diversity and inclusion programs and local community engagement efforts, I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished together thanks to the leadership team and the thousands of dedicated employees across the country who enthusiastically serve our customers and communities every day. In the months ahead, my focus will be on ensuring a smooth leadership transition and working closely with Dennis on our key strategic initiatives. I welcome Dennis to the Altice USA family and have the utmost confidence in him as we continue to accelerate and deliver on our fiber strategy and embark on the next chapter of our story.”■
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.