Friday, March 20, 2009

Charter Bankruptcy Planned for April 1

In just 11 days, Charter will go bankrupt and Paul Allen keeps his voting control, while other shareholders are not so lucky. As bondholder, private equity firm Apollo Group will convert its bonds into new equity shares of Charter. "Allen was able to retain the voting rights because of a clause in the bank loan agreements that would have allowed the banks to reprice the company's bank debt at a much higher rate if there had been a change of control in the company, two sources said." Not so others who invested in Charter hoping that it would run a profitable business.

So what will become of Charter. Some speculate that in order for Charter to survive it must sell off some assets and become smaller. But who will buy. Comcast has to be careful of exceeding its percentage of cable penetration so as to not run afoul of the FCC. Some assets, including their Los Angeles property would be a perfect fit for Time Warner and their CT property might be of interest to Cablevision. Or will Charter run as is, post bankruptcy with a cleaner liability sheet and nowhere left to go but up.

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