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Kofalt ankles cabler

James Kofalt, president and chief operating officer of Cablevision Systems Corp., the nation’s fifth-largest cable operator with 2.3 million subscribers, resigned after 17 years with the company.

Kofalt’s resignation is effective Feb. 28.

The Woodbury, N.Y.-based Cablevision has long been considered the next likely cable operator to merge or partner with a telephone company, and some industry analysts pondered whether Kofalt’s resignation was a sign of things to come.

While Kofalt’s departure may come as a surprise to much of the cable industry , he said: “(After) taking the company from a small to a significant player, I’d like to step out.”

Kofalt said his relationship with Cablevision chairman and CEO Charles Dolan was fine and played no part in his decision to step aside. He will stay in the industry and did not rule out working for a telephone company. “It is time for me and for the company to move in different directions,” Kofalt said.

Dolan said in a statement that Kofalt has been “an integral part of Cablevision’s growth and development from the beginning.” Dolan, who was unavailable for comment, has not named a successor, per a Cablevision spokesperson. Third in command at Cablevision is William Bell, chief financial officer.

Cabler courted

The most mentioned telco suitors for Cablevision have been US West and Southwestern Bell. But Southwestern Bell’s $ 4.9 billion partnership with Cox Cable would seemingly take that regional telco out of the picture, at least for now.

US West earlier this year invested $ 2.5 billion in Time Warner. With Cablevision’s owning systems in Long Island, adjacent to Time Warner’s New York City systems, a partnership might be logical. “It would be a nice add-on to the Time Warner systems,” one analyst said.

Kofalt and Cablevision would neither confirm nor deny reports linking it to a partner in the telephone industry.

Other assets

Besides its 2.3 million cable subscribers, Cablevision, through its Rainbow Programing division, holds ownership interests in 14 cable networks, including American Movie Classics, Bravo, Prime SportsChannel Networks and the Romance Channel.

Kofalt joined Cablevision in 1976 as a system general manager, moving up through the ranks to president in 1992. During that time, Cablevision grew from 30,000 subscribers in Long Island to 2.3 million subscribers.

He also holds an ownership interest in Cablevision (less than 5%) and serves on the board as well as on the boards of the National Cable Television Association and Cable Television Laboratories.

Cablevision stock was not impacted by Kofalt’s resignation, closing at $ 63. 75 Monday, down 88 cents.

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