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Altice shares fall as Bank of America Merrill Lynch cuts rating on stock

PARIS, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Altice shares fell on Tuesday, after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its rating on the telecoms and cable group to "neutral" from "buy," with the investment bank citing the impact of lower expectations for Altice's French business.

Altice shares were down 4.5 percent at 8.13 euros in early session trading, with the stock down by nearly 60 percent since the start of 2017.

Altice has been hit by concerns over its large debt burdens of around 50 billion euros ($58.7 billion) - greater than its stock market value of around 10 billion euros - while the slide in its stock price worsened after weak third-quarter results published at the start of November.

Those results showed that Altice had lost around 75,000 broadband customers in France in the third quarter.

Altice's billionaire founder Patrick Drahi, who holds some 30 percent of its shares, ousted chief executive Michel Combes after the third-quarter results, and Drahi has vowed to sell assets in order to help cut Altice's debt.

($1 = 0.8514 euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by John Irish)