New York Panel Recommends Approval of Altice-Cablevision Deal

  • Advisory staff of N.Y. regulators urge no job cuts for 4 years
  • Altice should pass 25 percent of cost savings on to customers

Staff for New York state regulators recommended approval of Altice NV’s $17.7 billion takeover of Cablevision Systems Corp., making it likely the deal will close this quarter.

Billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Altice agreed to buy Cablevision, based in Bethpage, New York, in September. State regulators and the Dutch company have been in talks for months about job retention and improving Internet and customer service for New York.

On Friday, the Department of Public Service urged regulators to condition their approval on Altice retaining “customer-facing jobs” -- including call-center representatives and service technicians -- for four years. It also recommended that one-fourth of the $450 million in estimated cost savings from the deal be passed on to customers. Altice should increase broadband speeds by the end of 2017 and offer discounted Internet service to low-income customers, the staff said.

An Altice spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The state’s Public Service Commission, which rarely opposes recommendations from staff, is scheduled to vote on the transaction on June 16. Its approval is the last major hurdle for the deal. Earlier this month, New York City approved the takeover on the condition that Altice agree on keeping consumer-facing jobs in New York “for an acceptable period of time.”

With Cablevision, Altice would add 3.1 million customers in the greater New York area to its 35 million subscribers in Europe, Israel and the Caribbean.

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