New York City officials have indicated that they harbour a ‘serious concern’ over the proposed USD17.7 billion takeover of US cable operator Cablevision, by European telecoms group Altice, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a filing made with the New York Public Service Commission, and obtained by the WSJ, NYC officials have declared said the merger poses ‘key public interest questions’. Local officials are said to be especially concerned by Altice’s pledge to trim USD900 million from the cableco’s operating budget, believing that it will result in significant job losses, as well as an inability to deliver on previously stated fibre-to-the-home rollout promises.
The city and the companies themselves have been locked in a dispute over whether the city has authority to approve or block the deal, and with Cablevision serving some three million cable customers in the greater New York City area, the issue has become something of a political ‘hot potato’. While the filing details its concerns, NYC will not make a formal decision on the deal until early spring, one city official noted. For its part, Altice expects the Cablevision deal to close in the first half of 2016; Altice US chief financial operator Charles Stewart has asserted that ‘New York will serve as our hub as we grow our business in the United States’.
TeleGeography notes that the Cablevision takeover represents one of two separate US deals that Altice agreed in 2015; the company secured regulatory approval for its USD9.1 billion takeover of Suddenlink in December that year.