UPDATE 1-Cablevision sees 'no sacred cows' -investor
(Adds Cablevision comment, Harbinger Capital)
NEW YORK Aug 14 (Reuters) - Cablevision Systems Corp (CVC.N) said there are "no sacred cows" as it considers options like asset sales to boost its share value, according to an investor who attended meetings with management this week.
Chief Executive Jim Dolan and senior management met with top investors in Baltimore, Boston and New York earlier this week as it sought to be more open with shareholders after criticism over its corporate governance style.
"The discussions' focus was on capital allocation," said Chris Marangi, an analyst at Gamco Investors Inc (GBL.N), which holds about 8 percent of Cablevision. "The company indicated there are no sacred cows in a move to maximize shareholder value."
Gamco led the meetings with other investors, including ClearBridge Advisors (LM.N) and T. Rowe Price, which jointly own about 100 million shares. Gamco Chief Executive Mario Gabelli is pushing for Cablevision to initiate a dividend or stock buyback to help boost the share price.
Cablevision declined to comment.
The New York-based cable operator owns Rainbow Media, which includes cable TV networks like AMC and IFC, as well as MSG, which owns venues like Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, professional sports teams like the New York Knicks and several sports and music cable TV networks.
Cablevision said in late July it was willing to consider all options, including selling Rainbow Media, after its shares fell more than 45 percent between October and July, even as its financial results have been strong.
The low share price and Cablevision's promising financial prospects, according to some analysts, have attracted other investors.
Activist fund manager Harbinger Capital bought a combined 11 million shares for two of its funds in the first half of the year, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday, making it Cablevision's fifth-largest external stakeholder.
Since Cablevision first said on July 31 it was willing to consider strategic alternatives and talk with investors, its shares have risen nearly 50 percent.
The Dolans, the family that owns a controlling stake in Cablevision, have been criticized for making large acquisitions of limited strategic value, such as the $650 million purchase in May of Newsday, a newspaper in Long Island, New York.
"Cablevision's management said they don't plan on making any other large acquisitions at this point," said Marangi, who described the discussions as cordial.
The Dolans have also repeatedly tried to take Cablevision private. Their latest bid was in October last year, when they offered $36.26 per share, but the price was turned down by shareholders for being too low.
Gabelli has suggested Cablevision sell Rainbow and spin off MSG.
"They could raise money for a dividend or buyout either from their free cash flow or by selling one of these assets," Marangi said.
Cablevision shares were up 8 cents at $31.04 in late Thursday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Braden Reddall)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this