Acknowledging that Altice wasn't ready to make a deal for Time Warner Cable when Charter swooped in with an offer, owner Patrick Drahi told a French parliamentary hearing that he still plans to go on a cable company hunting spree in the US.
According to a Reuters report, Drahi argued that Altice is now in a prime position to buy up smaller cable companies because both Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Charter Communications Inc. (assuming the deal with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) goes through) are up against regulatory constraints. Drahi noted that Altice could still end up with cable properties that equal the size of TWC. It just might require buying several operators instead of only one.
Altice has already gotten a start in the US market with its proposed acquisition of Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion. Announced only a week ago, that deal, if approved, will put Altice in charge of 1.5 million residential cable subscribers and 90,000 business customers. Altice CEO Dexter Goei said at the time that the company's goal is to have US investments make up 50% of its portfolio. With the purchase of Suddenlink, Alltice will reach the 12% mark for company holdings in American territory. (See Altice to Buy Suddenlink in $9.1B Deal and What's It All About, Altice?)
Outside of TWC and Bright House Networks , which are now spoken for, Cox Communications Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) are the only viable targets left among the top-five US cable companies. Some analysts have predicted that Cablevision would be unattractive because of the competition it faces from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in the hotly contested New York market. However, in talking to the French parliament, Drahi said that wouldn't be a deterrent because it would mean Cablevision is used to competing.
Rounding out the top 10 in the US cable market are Mediacom Communications Corp. with just under 900,000 subscribers, WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) with just under 800,000 subscribers and Cable One Inc. with more than 730,000 customers.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading