Cablevision Systems Corp. is no more. European telecom conglom Altice said Tuesday it has completed its $17.7 billion acquisition of one of the industry’s pioneering cable companies, a deal that makes the newly minted Altice USA the fourth-largest operator in the country.
The new company combines Cablevision and Suddenlink, which Altice acquired last year, for a base of 4.6 million subscribers for broadband and video services. Altice USA has operations in 20 states, including Cablevision’s stronghold on the lucrative Long Island market, putting it behind Comcast, Charter Communications (which just acquired Time Warner Cable) and Atlanta-based Cox Communications.
“Altice USA is a key pillar of our business and a powerful and dynamic growth platform,” said Patrick Drahi, Altice founder and controlling shareholder. “We are very excited about our U.S. business and the opportunities we see in this market. We will accelerate network investments and bring innovative products and services to U.S. customers by leveraging our global operational expertise, scale and resources.”
Altice has vowed to squeeze some $900 million in cost savings out of the consolidation of Cablevision and Suddenlink within three years of the deal’s closing. That aggressive target has led to speculation that Altice will implement significant layoffs — something it has done with the European TV and telecom assets that Drahi has acquired during the past decade.
Dexter Goei, Drahi’s top lieutenant, will serve as chairman-CEO of Altice USA. Earlier this month, Comcast veteran Michael Schreiber was named chief content officer of Altice USA. Cablevision founder Charles Dolan and his son James, who had served as CEO, have exited the company entirely along with the rest of the Cablevision board and other senior execs. The company will continue to be based in Cablevision’s hometown of Bethpage, N.Y.
Hakim Boubazine will serve as co-president and chief operating officer of Altice USA. Charles Stewart is co-president and CFO.
“Altice USA is well positioned to grow as a leading communications and media group with its best infrastructure, most innovative and reliable services, and a committed customer-centric approach,” Goei said. “Our immediate focus is on integrating our businesses within Altice, fostering their development through innovation and investment, and delivering on our plans to enhance the customer experience. Our very talented employees have great energy and enthusiasm, and we are confident that altogether we will help to build Altice USA to the benefit of our customers and the local communities that we serve.”
With the transaction closing, Altice has vowed to invest more in improving the infrastructure of the Cablevision and Suddenlink networks with a focus on boosting broadband speeds, improving WiFi service and updating the programming guide and interface to more user-friendly designs.