Despite initial resistance to the deal, the state of New York has now approved the proposed $17.7 billion acquisition of Cablevision by French network operator Altice.
The New York State Public Service Commission voted its approval today, noting that it expects the acquisition to deliver $243 million in benefits. The decision was not unexpected, as the Commission recommended approval of the deal back in May. (See Altice Steps Closer to Cablevision Closing.)
One of New York's biggest concerns about the Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) transaction initially was the prospect of Altice cutting jobs in order to streamline costs. As part of the approval process, however, Altice has now promised there will be no layoffs for four years after the acquisition closes.
Among other conditions imposed by the state, Altice must:
- Deliver broadband speeds up to 300 Mbits/s by the end of 2017
- Increase broadband access
- Offer new low-income broadband services
- Provide free broadband access to 40 anchor institutions in unserved or underserved areas
- Upgrade the Cablevision network with new technology to increase resiliency
- Grant most-favored-nation status to New York, guaranteeing that no other customer regions gain more favorable terms for broadband deployment as part of the acquisition process
"As a result of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strengthening of our oversight of the sale of cable companies, we were able to put in place rigorous conditions on the transaction to ensure it was in the best interest of customers and the State as a whole," said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman in a statement. "With our decision today, we will see a significant investment in New York's communication landscape that improves quality, reliability, speed and affordability for Cablevision's customers."
With the acquisition of Cablevision, Altice adds to the US customer base it started building with the buyout of Suddenlink Communications in late 2015. Once the latest transaction is complete, Altice's US customer footprint will include 3.7 million video, 4 million broadband and 2.7 million voice subscribers. (See Coming Soon: The New Cable Trinity.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading