December 18, 2015 / 6:11 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. FCC approves Altice acquisition of cable firm Suddenlink

(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Friday it approved the $9.1 billion sale of U.S. regional cable company

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Suddenlink Communications to European telecoms group Altice NV.

The Dutch firm announced in May its acquisition of a majority stake in Suddenlink, the seventh largest U.S. cable company, in its first U.S. acquisition.

The FCC said in its order that the Suddenlink sale “serves the public interest” and was unlikely to have “adverse competitive effects.”

Altice has acquired or taken control of broadband companies in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Israel and Portugal, the FCC said, adding that it has a track record of improving services after acquiring firms.

In September, Altice announced plans to acquire U.S. cable firm Cablevision Systems Corp in a $17.7 billion deal.

If it wins approval of the Cablevision deal, Altice would become the fourth largest U.S. cable provider. Cablevision has 3.1 million subscribers, mostly in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

That deal is still under review by the FCC. Altice said it expects that deal to close by June 2016.

Altice previously sought unsuccessfully to buy Time Warner Cable.

Altice said in May it would buy 70 percent of Suddenlink from some existing shareholders, while some investors would retain the rest.

St. Louis, Missouri-based Suddenlink has nearly 1.5 million residential and 90,000 business customers, mainly in the U.S. South and Midwest. Its sales grew 6 percent last year to $2.3 billion and operating profit rose at a similar pace to reach $905 million.

Last month, Suddenlink reported that third-quarter revenue rose 3.6 percent to $605.1 million. It has customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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