Charter smokin’ with Cuban

Cabler lights up on investor's stake

NEW YORK — Battered shares of Paul Allen’s Charter Communications soared Friday as word spread that tech investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has acquired 5.3% of the cabler.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cuban passed the 5% ownership threshold with stock purchases Oct. 17. Holdings of more than 5% of a publicly traded company must be registered with the SEC.

The shares, which have plunged more than 90% this year, rose 33% to $1.25 on the news. Cuban’s buy is a sign that plunging values in cable companies may have created attractive investment opportunities for those with cash to spare.

Private moment

Charter’s sinking stock had prompted Microsoft co-founder Allen to contemplate taking the company private. He alerted the SEC several months ago that he was considering the option, but hasn’t moved forward yet.

Investors who disclose their stakes to the SEC must certify they have no intention “of changing or influencing the control” of the company.

A Charter spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Digital boost

Separately, Charter estimated its third-quarter revenue increased 12.6% and operating cash flow rose 8.7% as the company added digital and high-speed data customers. It lost analog subs, however, due to competition from satellite, higher prices and tighter credit policies.

The company will report its third-quarter financial results formally Nov. 5.

St. Louis, Mo.-based Charter has 6.7 million subscribers.

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