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Paper: Comcast offers to buy SusCom

Mon, 09/19/2005 - 8:00pm

Copyright 2005 Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Copyright 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania)

Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania)

September 20, 2005, Tuesday

By Tony Gnoffo

From Lexis Nexis

Comcast Corp. has offered to buy the cable-television assets of Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff Co., of York, according to people familiar with the bid.

Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff is a family- and employee-owned firm in the process of selling some of its parts, which include interests in real estate, media and telecommunications. It sold its best-known business -- the Pfaltzgraff Co., the dinnerware-maker that claims to be the oldest pottery firm in the United States -- to Lifetime Brands Inc., of Westbury, N.Y., in July.

A Comcast spokeswoman declined to comment.

Comcast already holds a 30 percent stake in the company's cable business, Susquehanna Communications. The firm owns nine cable systems with 230,000 customers in six states, including a system serving York.

The terms of its stake give Comcast the right of first refusal to buy the remaining 70 percent of the cable assets, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Although the value of the bid was not disclosed, current cable valuation formulas would give the systems a price tag of between $690 million and $810 million.

Bloomberg News reported yesterday that a team of current and former Susquehanna managers, with financial backing from Providence Equity Partners and other leveraged-buyout firms, is also bidding for the cable assets, plus 21 radio stations owned by Susquehanna Radio.

Although Lilliputian by the standards of the nation's largest cable operator, the Susquehanna systems are attractive to Comcast because many of them are contiguous to systems Comcast already owns. Cable companies like to buy neighboring operations because they can run them with equipment and personnel they already have.

And if regulators approve Comcast's deal with Time Warner Inc. to buy Adelphia Communications Corp., the Susquehanna deal becomes more valuable to Comcast. That's because many of the systems Comcast would pick up in that deal are also contiguous to Susquehanna's.

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