October 31, 2007
So the Dolans, who had been trying to squirrel Cablevision (NYSE: CVC ) away from its shareholders for years, were halted in their efforts last week. The company will remain public, and the founding family won't get to cash in by pilfering it and flipping it back to another cable company for big bucks.
Cablevision's shareholders have turned up their noses at the Dolans' $36.26 final offer for the company -- as well they should have. But I'd submit that Cablevision's ultimate course hasn't changed. For now, it will remain in the ranks of public companies with Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) , Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) , and Charter (Nasdaq: CHTR ) . Nevertheless, I continue to think that the company will ultimately end up in the arms of Time Warner Cable. Here's why:
Cablevision's television subscribers are located in generally upscale metropolitan New York areas. Beyond that, Cablevision also owns some juicy properties that are dear to New Yorkers' hearts, including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Rangers and Knicks, and a successful production company. Time Warner Cable's Manhattan cable systems would fit like a glove into that array of properties.
The acquisition for Time Warner would be a near-monopoly on cable customers in perhaps the most demographically desirable cable market in the country. Cable operators benefit operationally and financially from "bundling" their subscribers, and surrounding its Manhattan systems with Cablevision's systems would be well worth the relatively high per-subscriber cost that would be needed for Time Warner to get the deal done.
Cablevision's assets are worth more than $36.26 per share -- perhaps as much as $50 -- and the failed shareholder vote reaffirms the fact. Cablevision should shop itself around; it's just that now the Dolans won't be able to sop up all the gravy when the final buyout does occur.
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