Update as of 03:24 a.m. EDT: Altice, the European telecoms company, as confirmed that it is to acquire U.S. cable provider Cablevision, in a $17.7 billion deal, that includes debt, the Reuters news agency reported.
Original story below:
European telecoms group Altice has agreed to purchase U.S. cable TV provider Cablevision for $17.7 billion including debt, sources with knowledge of the matter told media outlets. The deal is the latest in a series moves that are re-shaping the U.S. cable market.
The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to be announced Thursday, CNBC reported. But the plan is likely to concern U.S. regulators, as control of the U.S. communications market falls under the control of a small number of large players.
The U.S. cable industry has seen a raft of consolidations in recent months, as providers seek greater scale and negotiating power with content providers. In May, Charter Communications agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion, after regulators had opposed a tie-up between Comcast and Time Warner. In July, regulators approved AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV, bringing one of the nation's largest wireless carriers together with the largest satellite TV provider.
Altice will now inherit 2.78 million broadband customers and 2.64 million pay-TV customers in New York City's Long Island suburbs and other parts of the New York metro area. The company also will gain control of Newsday, a 400,000-circulation Long Island newspaper, and the seven regional Channel 12 cable news networks, according to the New York Post.
The company, run by French billionaire Patrick Drahi, has already made moves to establish a presence in the U.S. cable market. In May, Drahi acquired a 70 percent stake in Suddenlink -- a deal that valued the St. Louis cable company, with about 1 million subscribers, at $9.1 billion.
In Europe, Drahi has been able to cut costs by bundling four products: TV, high-speed Internet and fixed- and mobile-phone services. That so-called quadruple-play model doesn’t yet exist on a large scale in the U.S.
“My vision is to do the same in the U.S., but bigger,” Drahi said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal over the summer.
Cablevision is the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator and has been a pioneer and a pillar of the cable business since its foundation in 1973. It is controlled by the Dolan family, whose other holdings include the New York Knicks and New York Rangers sports teams, as well as Madison Square Garden and the AMC Networks cable group.