James Dolan, president and chief executive officer of Cablevision.
Photograph by Daniel Acker — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Mathew Ingram
September 17, 2015

According to multiple reports, European media giant Altice is in talks to acquire Cablevision, the fifth-largest cable operator in the U.S. and owner of New York’s Newsday newspaper. Altice has reportedly agreed to pay as much as $18 billion in cash, stock and debt for Cablevision (CVC), which is controlled by the Dolan family.

The deal could be announced as early as Thursday, according to reports by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and would represent a premium of more than 20 percent over the cable provider’s recent closing price. It is the latest sign of an ongoing wave of consolidation in the cable industry in North America, as companies try to adapt to the onset of digital streaming and cord cutting.

Cablevision serves about 3 million homes, primarily in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Dolan family also controls the company that owns Madison Square Gardens and the New York Knicks and Rangers, as well as cable channel AMC Networks, but those assets aren’t part of the deal, according to the reports.

Altice is an acquisitive Netherlands-based telecom and cable company controlled by Moroccan-born billionaire Patrick Drahi, and operates the second-largest telecom provider in France, as well as one of that country’s largest cable operators. Drahi recently told the Journal that his plan is to bring the “quadruple play” model that is popular in Europe—in which providers offer cable, Internet, mobile phone service and landline service—to the U.S.

Earlier this year, the European company agreed to acquire 70% of Suddenlink Communications, the seventh-largest cable provider in the U.S., for $6 billion. Altice also acquired Portugal’s largest telecom company for $8 billion earlier this year, and Drahi has reportedly since offered to buy Bouygues Telecom, the third-largest French telecom provider, for as much as $11 billion.

The French billionaire made an offer to acquire Time Warner Cable earlier this year, according to a report by Bloomberg, after the U.S. cable company’s proposed merger with Comcast fell through. Time Warner has since agreed to merge with John Malone’s Charter Communications in a $56-billion deal.

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