Markets

Who Is the French Billionaire Making a Play for Charter Communications?

Who Is the French Billionaire Making a Play for Charter Communications?

Altice's push comes amid reports that Japan telecom giant SoftBank also is considering a bid for Charter.

Altice has not formally made an approach and may not proceed, according to multiple people close to the Luxembourg-based, Netherlands-listed group.

Shares in the company have leapt in recent weeks as it has become the focal point of interest, particularly from Japan's SoftBank, which is searching for a partner to connect with Sprint, the fourth-largest USA mobile phone operator which it controls.

Altice and Charter both declined to comment on the possible deal. It acquired those regional operators for $17.7 billion and $9.1 billion in the past two years and then bundled them into Altice USA.

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Charter, with a market capitalization of $118 billion, would be a big fish to swallow.

It's a point Maffei raised twice answering Wall Street analyst's questions Wednesday during Liberty's quarterly earnings call.

Altice's step towards Charter brings Drahi back into the universe of U.S. media mogul John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, a major Charter shareholder, and a mentor of sorts to Drahi. "Any deal that would be appealing for us and other Charter shareholders would have to have real value and show real capabilities that are beyond what we think is a very well-positioned company". "We remain very committed to the Charter stock" although "we will listen to all and any offers that come in".

Charter just had "a solid quarter that sets it up for future growth", he adds. "That's my considered, non-legal, opinion".