Altice USA isn't going to let a straight-up rejection halt its pursuit of a deal to acquire Cogeco and divvy up the spoils with Canadian operator Rogers Communications.
"This is a marathon, not a sprint. We're committed to trying to come to an end game," Dexter Goei, Altice USA's CEO, said Wednesday (September 9) at the Bank of America Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. "From our standpoint, that's very simple, which is we'd like to ... acquire [Cogeco's] US assets."
Dexter Goei, Altice USA's CEO, says Atlantic Broadband's systems along the US east coast presents 'somewhat of a perfect match' from a geographic standpoint.
Altice USA's offer, announced on September 2, is to acquire Cogeco at a premium, retain Cogeco's US assets (Atlantic Broadband) and then sell Cogeco to Rogers Communications, a Toronto-based operator that also happens to be Cogeco's largest long-term shareholder.
Goei said Altice USA is "committed ... to continuing this process and this project and we'll see where it ends up."
Altice USA has its work cut out. The Cogeco boards as well as a family-owned business with critical stakes and voting rights in Cogeco, have already spurned the deal. Gestion Audem Inc., a company controlled by members of the Audet family that holds key stakes and 69% voting rights in Cogeco, has also rejected the idea of negotiating for a sweeter deal.
"Our shares are not for sale," Louis Audet, who represents the Audet family on behalf of Gestion Audem, said Monday. "And let me be clear, our refusal is not a negotiating position, it is definitive."
Goei said the opportunity to make the offer for Cogeco followed an introduction to Rogers, which has about 6% voting rights in Cogeco. Altice USA was merely striking while the iron was hot.
"It's not a question in any shape or form of us needing to do anything in particular, it's just that you need to be reactive in M&A situations. And this was a perfect opportunity for us to be reactive," Goei said, noting that Altice USA is coming off its two best quarters of operational performance. "This is not something that comes along every day, and that's not something you can plan for, either."
For more about Altice USA's unsolicited bid for Cogeco and its strategic reasoning for wanting to add Atlantic Broadband to assets that already include its "Optimum" footprint in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as well as its more rural Suddenlink assets, please see this story at Light Reading: Altice USA undaunted after Cogeco spurns offer.)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading, special to Broadband World News