Cablevision shareholder opposes bid

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NEW YORK -- The Dolan family’s effort to take Cablevision Systems Corp. private is being opposed by a key shareholder of the New York-area cable TV company and a major proxy advisory firm.

Mario Gabelli, a longtime media investor, said in a securities filing late Friday that the funds he controls will vote against the proposed transaction at a special shareholders’ meeting scheduled for Oct. 24. Gabelli controls 8.3% of Cablevision’s shares.

In a letter to Cablevision posted on Gabelli’s Web site, Gabelli said he believed his clients “are best served by staying the course in Cablevision.”

ISS Governance Service, a firm that advises institutional investors on how to vote their shares, sent its clients a report Friday advising them to vote against the deal, noting that several Wall Street analysts put the value of Cablevision well above the Dolans’ price of $36.26 per share.

Cablevision has about 3 million cable TV subscribers in the New York area and also owns Radio City Music Hall, the AMC, IFC and WE cable channels, Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.

The Dolan family, which controls Cablevision through a special class of supervoting shares, has been trying to take the company private for several years. They have said they wouldn’t support any transaction for Cablevision other than the one they were proposing, and with 65% of the company’s shareholder vote, they could easily block a takeover offer.

Cablevision’s board rejected a previous proposal that called for investors to receive $21 in cash and shares in a new public entity that would house Cablevision’s sports and programming assets. The board finally approved the $36.26-per-share offer in May after the Dolan group raised its price twice.

One of the conditions set on the current proposal is that it must receive majority approval by shareholders not affiliated with the Dolan family.

Cablevision’s shares fell 87 cents or 2.5% to $33.56 in afternoon trading Monday. They have ranged between $26.82 and $39.75 in the past year.
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