Levin won't indulge Cablevision fantasy


AOL Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin said that he has no immediate interest in acquiring the major stake in Cablevision Systems that has bounced loose, though he would ultimately love to combined the companies' cable systems.

AT&T Corp. is looking to sell most of its 30% stake in Cablevision to pare debt. Speaking at AOL's annual meeting at Harlem's Apollo Theater, Levin dismissed the $2 billion stake as "illiquid and passive", because the shares can't be publicly traded and it offers "no path to control" of the whole company. "We have not stepped up in any way," Levin emphasiszed. AOL is the most obvious buyer of Cablevision because it has the hole in Cablevision's suburban New York cable donut: the 1.2 million subscriber New York City system.

Levin said, somewhat wistfully, that he would love to someday buy Cablevision, in part because Chairman Charles Dolan started the operations - and founded Home Box Office - with backing from Time Inc. "It would be a very interesting company to put all the cable systems in the New York area together."
- John Higgins