Purpose: This paper aims to shed light on the development of Altice, a French-based but multinational operator of cable and mobile networks. Design/methodology/approach: A detailed longitudinal case study approach is adopted covering the period 2002 to 2018 (inclusive). Data are drawn from multiple sources, including the annual reports of Altice, its filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the prospectuses of Altice S.A. and Altice USA and the trade press. Findings: The paper demonstrates how, until recently, Altice’s presence in France was relatively limited. This changed, however, with the acquisition of Numericable and SFR. These purchases, along with those of Suddenlink and Cablevision in the USA, were funded by a substantial increase in Altice’s debt burden. To address the negative consequences of this burden, Altice has retrenched through selling or planning to sell some of its operations and spinning-off Altice USA to its existing shareholders. Research limitations/implications: The paper highlights the complexity of multinational telecommunication companies. The challenges of developing a longitudinal case study of a company that operates in multiple countries through cascading holding companies is also illustrated by the paper. Practical implications: There is a need for more data to be available in the public domain. This will, amongst other things, facilitate the analysis of companies like Altice that operate internationally and bundle products together to enhance their competitiveness. Originality/value: This paper charts the growth of Altice, highlighting the role played by frequent merger and acquisition activity and debt in shaping its development and strategy.