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Exclusive - Altice seeks financing for Time Warner Cable bid: sources

05/22/2015 | 11:16am US/Eastern
Time Warner Cable office is pictured in San Diego

French telecommunications group Altice SA (>> Altice) is talking to several banks about raising debt for a potential bid for Time Warner Cable Inc (>> Time Warner Cable Inc), the second-largest U.S. cable operator, according to people familiar with the matter.

French telecommunications group Altice SA (>> Altice) is talking to several banks about raising debt for a potential bid for Time Warner Cable Inc (>> Time Warner Cable Inc), the second-largest U.S. cable operator, according to people familiar with the matter.

The talks are an important step for Altice in putting together a bid for Time Warner Cable, which is also being courted by Charter Communications Inc (>> Charter Communications, Inc.) after Comcast Corp (>> Comcast Corporation) abandoned its $45.2 billion (29 billion pounds) offer for Time Warner Cable last month over U.S. antitrust concerns.

Altice is in discussions with banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co (>> JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Nomura Co Ltd (>> Nomura Co Ltd), BNP Paribas SA (>> BNP PARIBAS), Societe Generale (>> SOCIETE GENERALE), Barclays Plc (>> Barclays PLC) and Royal Bank of Canada (>> Royal Bank of Canada) about a financing package to support a proposed acquisition, the people said.

The size of the package has yet to be determined and there is no certainty that a bid will materialise, some of the people said. The financing could comprise of a dollar-denominated high-yield bond, as well as loans, according to one of the sources. The sources asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential.

Shares of Time Warner Cable rose 2.7 percent to $170.0 in Friday morning trade in New York, giving the company a market capitalisation of about $48 billion. Shares of Altice were up 2.5 percent at 130.9 euros in Amsterdam, valuing the company at around $32 billion.

Earlier this week, Altice agreed to buy U.S. regional cable company Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion from private equity investors, making a first move across the Atlantic.

After spending 36 billion euros ($40 billion) on acquisitions in the past 18 months, Altice will have to be mindful of its finances, according to credit analysts. The Moody's rating agency put Altice under review for a possible downgrade this week, following the Suddenlink deal.

"They would probably need to issue equity if they want to do a big deal in the next twelve months," said Osant Jaeger, a credit analyst at Moody's.

Altice's controlling shareholder Patrick Drahi and Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Robert Marcus met in New York on Wednesday as part of preliminary talks between the two companies, according to two of the sources.

Altice and Time Warner Cable declined to comment. Representatives for the banks either declined to comment or did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

($1 = 0.9066 euros)

(Additional reporting by Leila Abboud in Paris, Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Robert Smith in London; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

By Liana B. Baker and Claire Ruckin

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