Charter shareholders will get the shaft now that Charter Communications has reached a deal in principle to restructure and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by April 1. This new announcement follows Charter’s January warning that it could not make a $74 million interest payment on some debt. Now it has negotiated breathing room with certain bondholders and plans a pre-packaged bankruptcy that will help it reduce debt by $8 billion. None of this is a surprise. Unless you’re a Charter shareholder because common stock will be cancelled. But don’t worry about billionaire Paul Allen, Charter’s chairman and majority owner: he’ll continue to be an investor in the company and retain the largest voting stake in the company. Of course, he bought Charter in 1998, combined it with his existing cable assets, and saddled the company with a huge debt burden by going on a major acquisitions spree. Since then, it’s been the most leveraged publicly traded cable operator. These days, Charter provides 5.5 million customers with cable, Internet and phone service.
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