Looking to cast a vote of confidence in the company, Paul Allen and a group
of other Charter Communications Inc. executives have started buying shares in the
Securities and Exchange Commission filings showed that Allen bought 5 million
shares in the cable operator for a bit more than $20 million, at an average of
$4.01 per share.
CEO Carl Vogel popped about $220,000 for 50,000 shares and another $450,000
for bonds convertible into Charter common stock.
Three other executives -- chief financial officer Kent Kalkwarf, executive vice president Steve
Schumm and controller Paul Martin -- each made smaller purchases.
There were all open-market purchases, clearly designed to send a signal to
the market that they continue to have confidence in the company.
The dollar amounts are small, particularly given that Allen's $7.2 billion
investment in Charter has shrunk to less than $2 billion.
Charter has been pummeled in recent weeks, mostly because of the scandals at
the bankrupt Adelphia Communications Corp., and it was slammed again by the newest
accounting mess at telco WorldCom Inc.
Industry executives said Allen has considered taking the company
private, but Wall Street executives believe that if he doesn't, he should
engineer a way to buy in $1 billion or more worth of Charter bonds in the open
market at a discount and convert it into Charter equity, shrinking the MSO's
Allen now owns about 50 percent of Charter's stock.