Crunch Time For The Dolans- Altice To Buy Cablevision, AMC Networks May Buy Starz,MSG Spinoff Set

The Dolan family has spent the better part of the decade spinning off assets. The dynasty behind Cablevision(CVC) spun off the Madison Square Garden Company(MSG) in 2010, followed by AMC Networks(AMCX) in 2011. Now, all three companies are in the midst of radical transformations.

Early this morning, Cablevision announced that it would be acquired by French telecom Altice in an all-cash transaction. Altice, controlled by tycoon Patrick Drahi, will pay $34.90 per share, yielding an enterprise value of $17.7 billion.

Cablevision Chief Executive Officer James L. Dolan issued the following statement on behalf of the Dolan family:

“Since Charles Dolan founded Cablevision in 1973, the Dolan family has been honored to help shepherd our customers and employees through the most extraordinary communications revolution in modern history.

Now, nearly half a century later, the time is right for new ownership of Cablevision and its considerable assets. We believe that Patrick Drahi and Altice will be truly worthy successors, and we look forward to doing all we can to affect this transition for our customers and employees. We expect that Cablevision will be in excellent hands.

For the Dolan family, we move forward with AMC Networks and The Madison Square Garden Company – two and, eventually, three public companies – all born of Cablevision and each with brighter prospects today than ever before.

With profound gratitude to our employees, customers and shareholders who have made our vision a reality, the Dolans look forward to continuing this fascinating journey.”

James Dolan mentions the other companies his family will continue to control and both are in the midst of their own spinoff related dramas. This week, AMC Networks has been the subject of rumors that it is in talks to acquire Starz(STRZA), itself a spinoff of Liberty Media(LMCA)(well, technically, Liberty Media is a spin off of Starz,but,come on).  The move would combine programming assets and give the companies additional leverage in negotiating with cable providers. It would also be a marriage of cable royalty- the Dolans with John Malone.

Last week, the Dolans’ other baby, MSG, set the date and distribution ratio for its spinoff. MSG will be spinning off everything but its cable networks as the Madison Square Garden Company and changing its own name to MSG Networks. On September 30, shareholders of record as of September 21 will receive one share in the new MSG for every three shares owned of the old. The parent company will move to the MSGN ticker, while the child will take the MSG ticker with it.

Doc O’Connor, president and CEO of MSG said, “We are now one step closer toward our goal of creating two distinct, focused companies for investors. The live sports and entertainment company will comprise a portfolio of celebrated venues, legendary sports teams and exclusive entertainment productions, while the media company will continue to own and operate award-winning regional networks that deliver compelling sports and entertainment content. We are confident that this transaction will further enhance the long-term value potential of both companies as each continues to build on its considerable record of achievement.”

Congratulations to the Dolan family for a successful exit from Cablevision after 50 years of control, and best of luck with the frenetic activity in their other businesses.  They definitely seem to manage their finances better than their sports teams.

Disclosure: The author owns shares in MSG


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