Western cabler to sell for $1.37 billion

Cablevision said Monday it will pay $1.37 billion for mid-sized cable television provider Bresnan Communications, a move that will help the New York cable company expand into Western states.

Bresnan has cable systems in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah with more than 300,000 basic subscribers. It’s owned by Providence Equity Partners. Founder and cable pioneer Bill Bresnan died last year.

The deal follows an auction that involved bids from some of the nation’s largest cable companies. Other bidders reportedly included Charter Communications Inc.; Ascent Media Corp., a media services holding company in which media mogul John Malone has 30% voting control; cable company Suddenlink Communications and private investment firm TPG Capital. Time Warner Cable Inc. also reportedly put in a bid, but its offer did not survive the first round.

Cable systems operated by Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp., which owns 30% of Bresnan, are adjacent to the areas served by Bresnan.

The deal is expected to be completed later this year or early 2011.

Cablevision, the nation’s fifth-largest cable TV operator, said it will also buy back up to $500 million worth of shares to reward shareholders.

Last month, Cablevision reported that its first-quarter net income more than tripled as it added more customers, and it boosted its dividend by 25%. The Bethpage, N.Y., company, which also owns the newspaper Newsday, spun off its Madison Square Garden operations in February.

In premarket trading, Cablevision shares rose 10 cents to $23.50.

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