Citing two unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported on Friday that Cablevision has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup to help it find potential buyers for its Bresnan Broadband Holdings unit that it bought in 2010 for $1.37 billion.
In Cablevision’s most recent earnings call earlier this month, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan acknowledged that there was some interest in the former Bresnan systems, which are now known as Optimum West.
“In recent weeks, a number of parties expressed their unsolicited interest in possibly acquiring Optimum West,” Dolan said. “While it's not been our intention to divest this valuable asset, based on the approaches that we received, we have decided to explore a potential transaction.”
Optimum West serves customers in Montana, where it has a master headend, and in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Cablevision, the nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, bought the Bresnan systems two years ago from Providence Equity Partners.
Former Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge was in charge of the new Bresnan subsidiary at the time of the purchase, but he has since moved on to the CEO and president positions at Charter Communications.
Friday’s story by Bloomberg cited Charter Communications and Suddenlink Communications as possible suitors for the Bresnan systems. Suddenlink was one of the previous bidders for Bresnan before Cablevision emerged as the winner.
Bresnan was formed in 2003 by cable pioneer Bill Bresnan, who passed away in 2009. At the time of the Cablevision purchase, Bresnan served more than 320,000 basic subscribers in largely rural areas in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Cablevision’s New York City metro area footprint is contiguous, while Bresnan’s is spread out among rural communities out West.
During the recent earnings conference call, Cablevision CFO Gregg Seibert said the cable operator was “very confident in Bresnan's prospects for growth, and we're very pleased with our progress to date.”
“However, consistent with our approach of balancing our investable resources to the extent an attractive transaction is presented to us, we plan to pursue it,” Seibert said. “However, there can be no assurance that we will conclude a sale or go with the opportunity to continue to execute our business plan.”
A spokesman for Cablevision didn’t respond by deadline this morning on the company hiring the two firms.
There’s been a wave of acquisitions in the cable ranks this year, with WideOpenWest buying Knology and Cogeco buying Atlantic Broadband, along with the WaveDivision Holdings and Suddenlink deals.