TW sets small cable sales

NEW YORK — Time Warner Inc. put seven of its smaller cable systems, serving a total of 154,000 customers, up for sale in a series of deals which could fetch about $300 million.

Sale of the systems has been long expected and reflects a trend by most cable operators to improve the geographic clustering of their cable systems. Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin said last month that the media giant would be selling smaller unclustered systems and putting some smaller systems into joint ventures with other operators.

To be sold are systems in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Michigan. Time Warner’s systems cover about 12 million subscribers, so the sales represent a fraction of its total cable holdings.

The systems were acquired in early 1996 as part of the purchase of Cablevision Industries Inc. Time Warner is likely to use the money raised from the sales to reduce debt.

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