Cablevision Stock Soars on Merger Speculation

Altice chief says he wants to expand U.S. presence

Cablevision Systems stock soared Friday after Altice chairman Patrick Drahi said in a Wall Street Journal profile that he wanted to expand into the U.S., and would be interested in pursuing cable companies like Cablevision and Cox Communications.

Cablevision shares rose as high as $27.09 each (up 9% or $2.24 each) before closing Friday at $26.67per share, up 7.3% or $1.82 each. The stock is up about 12% since June 30.

Cablevision has been the subject of consolidation speculation for more than a year, and Altice’s entrance on the U.S. cable scene with its pending $9.1 billion purchase of Suddenlink Communications added another deep-pocketed player to the mix. Altice CEO Dexter Goei has said in the past that he would like to use Suddenlink as a vehicle to acquire other U.S. operators. And after a restructuring that split Altice’s shares into two tiers, which would allow it to issue equity for deals without diluting the chairman’s voting control, Drahi can be even more aggressive in his pursuit of U.S. cable assets.

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