You can’t attribute the 9.4% increase in Cablevision‘s share price today — and 23% jump over the last five days — to the day’s only solid news: Charter just closed the deal announced in February to pay $1.63B for Cablevision’s systems in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. No, investors are more excited by new reports that the Dolan family — led by Cablevision founder Charles Dolan and his son, CEO Jim Dolan — may finally be willing to sell the company, and that Time Warner Cable as well as Charter want to kick the tires. TWC has long salivated to combine its crown jewel cable system in Manhattan with Cablevision’s franchises in New York’s outer boroughs and suburbs including Long Island. Up to now, the Dolans haven’t been interested. The family tried to take the company private in 2007, but shareholders rejected the offer. Cablevision’s stock took a roller-coaster ride as execs grappled with growing competition from phone companies led by Verizon’s FiOS and restructured operations — including spinoff deals in 2010 for Madison Square Garden, and in 2011 for AMC Networks. But Cablevision’s stock price has been virtually dormant since the beginning of 2012, at least until the latest speculation-fueled run-up. The change: Liberty Media’s John Malone recently paid $2.6B for a 27.3% stake in Charter — run by former Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge. They’re eager to snag Time Warner Cable. Execs there are cool to the idea, though. If TWC buys Cablevision, then it probably would kill Charter’s hope to take over the No. 2 cable operator, some investors say. And if TWC is beyond Charter’s grasp, then Cablevision might be an attractive consolation prize for Malone and Rutledge.
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