Funds Said in Talks to Buy Over $1 Billion Cablevision Stake

  • Final purchase agreement has yet to be reached, people say
  • Deal would give Altice extra cash to fund Cablevision takeover

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and private-equity firm BC Partners are in talks to acquire more than $1 billion in Cablevision Systems Corp. shares as part of Altice NV’s takeover of the U.S. cable provider, according to people familiar with the matter.

The amount hasn’t been finalized and a deal could still fall apart, the people said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. The two investors have an option to buy as much as 30 percent of Cablevision’s equity as part the $17.7 billion sale of the cable company to Altice, billionaire Patrick Drahi’s investment vehicle.

An agreement would help shore up Altice’s finances to pay for its largest U.S. acquisition to date. Altice this week raised 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) by selling new shares, having initially targeted $3.3 billion when announcing the Cablevision deal. Altice also sold $8.6 billion in new Cablevision debt as part of the takeover.

Representatives for Toronto-based Canada Pension, London-based BC Partners and Altice, which recently moved its headquarters to Amsterdam, declined to comment on the talks.

Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision would vault Altice into the ranks of major pay-TV providers in the U.S. and accelerate 52-year-old Drahi’s push to create a cross-Atlantic cable giant. Altice agreed in May to buy majority control of St. Louis-based Suddenlink -- from investors including BC Partners and Canada Pension -- in a $9.1 billion deal that marked the first U.S. foray by the French-Israeli tycoon.

In just under two months since the creation of a holding structure that would allow Drahi to retain control of his cable empire as he uses new stock to finance acquisitions, Altice’s class A and class B stocks have each fallen 40 percent, wiping more than 12 billion euros off the company’s market value. Altice had a market capitalization of 18.8 billion euros at the close of trading in Amsterdam on Oct. 2.

Cablevision has gained 16 percent since the Sept. 17 announcement of its sale to Altice. The shares last traded at $33.01 in New York, compared with Altice’s $34.90 a share cash offer.

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