Cablevision may be the next big buy for French service provider Altice in the US market.
Several outlets are reporting that Altice is close to a deal to acquire Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), with The New York Times declaring that the deal is being valued at $17.7 billion including debt. The news follows an announcement earlier this year from Altice stating its intention to purchase Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion. If both transactions go through, Altice will go from having zero customers in the US to controlling 4 million broadband subscribers and 3.7 million pay-TV subs. (See Altice to Buy Suddenlink in $9.1B Deal.)
Cablevision CEO James Dolan effectively put his company on the block back in May when he announced on stage at the Internet & Television Expo that he was ready to make a deal to consolidate the New York market by merging with one of his cable brethren. Neither Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) nor Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), both of which operate in the greater New York market, took Dolan up on the offer, but the announcement made it clear that the CEO was open to a sale. (See Cablevision Chief Plays the Dating Game.)
Altice owner Patrick Drahi, meanwhile, has made no secret of his ambition to build up cable assets in the US. There has been some concern from analysts that competition from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in New York would be a deterrent to potential Cablevision acquirers. But Drahi said in the spring that he wasn't worried about the market dynamics because Cablevision is used to competing for customers. Altice also needs some big companies in its portfolio if it wants to match up against Comcast and against Charter Communications Inc. if and when the acquisition of Time Warner Cable is approved. (See Altice Eyes Next US Cable Prizes.)
Aside from Cablevision, the only other top-five cable operator potentially in play is privately held Cox Communications Inc. . Other options for Altice in the top ten include Mediacom Communications Corp. , WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) and Cable One Inc. .
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading