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Charter in bondholder talks on financial options

Fri, 12/12/2008 - 7:20am
AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Charter Communications Inc. said Friday that it is beginning discussions with its bondholders about financial options to improve the cable operator's balance sheet.

"We believe engaging in discussions with our bondholders, aimed at improving our capital structure and enhancing our financial flexibility, is in the company's and our customers' best interests," said President and Chief Executive Neil Smit in a statement.

Last month, Charter reported it narrowed its third-quarter loss as customer sign-ups for new lines of service surged 50 percent.

But the St. Louis-based company, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, has continued to struggle with its debt burden. It reported interest expenses of $478 million in the third quarter, eclipsing its $208 million in operating income.

As of Wednesday, Charter said it had more than $900 million of cash on hand and cash equivalents available to pay operating costs and expenses.

Charter is the nation's fourth largest cable TV operator behind Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Cox Communications.

Charter's financial adviser is Lazard LLC. Charter's shares were roughly unchanged at 16 cents in morning trading.

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