Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC), the fifth- largest U.S. cable company, is near an agreement to sell regional cable provider Optimum West to Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR), according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The deal may be announced as early as today, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The agreement hasn’t been signed yet, and talks could still fall apart, said the same person.
If successful, Charter will win out over peers such as Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and Suddenlink Communications, which also made offers for the business, people close to the situation said in December. In Optimum West, the company would gain about 300,000 customers in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.
Cablevision bought the unit, previously known as Bresnan Broadband Holdings LLC, in 2010 from Providence Equity Partners Inc. for $1.37 billion. Selling the business would let Cablevision concentrate on the New York area, where most of its customers reside.
Cablevision serves about 3 million subscribers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania. The Bethpage, New York-based company began exploring a sale of the Bresnan business after several acquisitions of cable systems were announced last year at favorable prices, compared to the value of publicly traded cable companies’ shares.
Charter, based in St. Louis, has its own connection to the Bresnan business. Tom Rutledge, chief executive officer of the fourth-largest U.S. cable company, served as chief operations officer at Cablevision during the Bresnan purchase in 2010.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) is the nation’s largest cable carrier, followed by Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications Inc.
Charlie Schueler, a Cablevision spokesman, declined to comment. Anita Lamont, a spokeswoman for Charter, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.
By Serena Saitto & Alex Sherman
Courtesy of Bloomberg News