Altice Considers A Play For Charter Communications

Altice to buy US cable operator Suddenlink for $9.1 billion

Altice N.V. purchased Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage previous year and then combined it with Suddenlink of St. Louis, Missouri, to form Altice USA.

The communications giant, which raised $1.9 billion in an IPO of its U.S. arm earlier this summer, is reportedly weighing a bid for Charter Communications.

Reuters/Philippe WojazerPatrick Drahi, the billionaire founder of Dutch telecoms company Altice, is back on the acquisition trail. Altice had $57.8 billion of debt at the end of June. The banking sources said Altice has yet to make an official offer. By contrast Altice is valued at $31.0 billion and Softbank is about $86.8 billion.

These people also cautioned that Charter, which beat Altice in a battle to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $78.7 billion deal that closed just a year ago, has not expressed interest in a possible combination.

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That might not appeal to Charter's biggest shareholder, Liberty Media.

Altice is now the fourth biggest cable operator in the USA, having paid $17.7 billion to acquire Cablevision and $9.1 billion to buy Suddenlink Communications.

Besides cost savings from combining operations, a deal with a USA giant like Charter also would give the French company more clout with content creators as streaming services increasingly challenge cable's traditional business. Drahi was born in Morocco and moved to France when he was 15. "A lot of it is going to be based on levering up Charter and if we want to lever up Charter, we have that opportunity". Altice USA owns 25 percent of Newsday Media Group.

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