Cablevision on brink

The Dolan's plan to take Cablevision private is on the brink as ClearBridge Advisors, the largest institutional shareholder in declares it plans to vote against the Dolan family’s $10.6 billion (E7.4bn) bid.

A defeat would end a two-year struggle by the Dolans to take private the company, which owns cable systems and the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden. ClearBridge owns about 14 per cent of Cablevision’s public stock. Three other large institutional shareholders that together control about 20 per cent of the vote have already indicated their intention to oppose the buyout at the shareholder meeting scheduled for next Wednesday. The Dolans – who own about 20 per cent of the company through a separate class of stock that they can’t vote in this matter — need approval of 50 per cent of the public shareholders.

Like the other dissidents, ClearBridge believes the Dolans’ offer of $36.26 a share is too low. They have also argued that Cablevision’s systems are worth more than those at companies like Comcast and Time Warner because they serve more affluent areas and are further ahead in rolling out phone service and digital cable.

A similar view is taken by ISS Governance Services, one of the leading proxy advisory firms to institutional investors which last week recommended that shareholders vote against the buyout because the price is inadequate.

Speaking on behalf of the Dolan Family Group, James Dolan, President and CEO, said that the offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Cablevision will not be modified from the current $36.26-per-share bid.

“On behalf of my parents, brothers and sisters, I want to state emphatically that there will be no modification of the family’s accepted offer to acquire Cablevision. We are looking forward to next week’s vote and hope that the transaction is approved, but I’d underscore that I am completely prepared to continue to lead the company into the future as a public company if the transaction is not approved.”

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