European Cable Company Altice Eyeing Time Warner Buyout, Reports Say

Altice, a Luxembourg-based cable and telecom company, is reportedly interested in acquiring Time Warner Cable, the number two cable provider in the U.S.

Altice, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, merger

Time Warner Cable apparently has another acquisition suitor, less than a month after its planned merger with Comcast Cable was dropped in April.

This time it is Luxembourg-based cable and telecom company Altice, which wants to pursue Time Warner Cable (TWC), according to a May 19 report from The Wall Street Journal. The news article said that Altice would seek TWC if it could first acquire the St. Louis-based cable company, Suddenlink.

That first step came together on May 20 when Altice announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 70 percent of the share capital of Suddenlink, which is the seventh-largest cable company in the United States and serves customers in Texas, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona. Under the deal, Altice values Suddenlink at $9.1 billion.

The Suddenlink transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015, pending the approval of regulators.

"We are very excited about the acquisition of Suddenlink and are highly committed to continue to improve network investment, customer offers and service innovation in the attractive U.S. market," Dexter Goei, CEO of Altice, said in a statement. "Our investment in Suddenlink, our first in the cable sector in the U.S., opens an attractive industrial and strategic avenue for Altice in the U.S., one of the largest and fastest growing communications markets in the world."

The Wall Street Journal article initially reported that Altice was is in advanced talks to acquire Suddenlink and that the deal was imminent. At the same time, the news story also reported that sources said that Altice is also interested in acquiring TWC, as long as the Suddenlink deal was reached first, which has now occurred.

The Altice interest in TWC comes just three weeks after Comcast on April 24 scrapped its own $45 billion proposal to merge with TWC after being faced with potential roadblocks from federal regulators who were leery of the merger due to concerns about unfair competition and harm to industry innovation. That merger had been proposed back in February 2014, according to earlier eWEEK reports.

TWC has had no shortage of recent suitors as Charter Communications then announced its potential interest in acquiring TWC once the Comcast merger deal fell apart.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, which actively reviewed the Comcast merger proposal from the start, lauded the ending of that proposed deal after the merger was scrapped. "The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers," Wheeler said in a statement at the time.