Charter Communications Inc. chairman Paul Allen tried to ease investor fears
at the MSO’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Seattle Wednesday, throwing his
support behind CEO Carl Vogel and pointing to the progress the troubled company
has made in the past year.
"It’s been a tumultuous 12 months since the last annual meeting,"Allen said
to open the event. "I’m happy to say Carl and his bolstered management team have
made tremendous strides in addressing the problems of the past and positioning
the company to succeed in the months and years to come."
"There is, however, much work still to be done," Allen added. "We are up to
the challenge. I have great faith in our Charter team and its leader, Carl
In a little more than one year at Charter’s helm, Vogel has had to address a
mounting debt load, a dwindling subscriber base and a federal investigation into
some of its accounting practices -- mainly, the way it counts subscribers.
While Allen readily admitted that Charter was not out of the woods yet, he
pointed to the changes that have been made at the MSO in the past year --
restructuring operations into five different divisions, hiring several new
operating managers and initiating a private-debt offering to refinance about
$500 million of existing debt.
For the most part, the 70 attendees at the meeting were easy on Vogel, asking
about accounting-rule changes, possible systems acquisitions and the company’s
Regarding acquisitions, Vogel said Charter is more focused on reducing debt,
but he added -- at the suggestion of Allen -- that system swaps with other
operators may be in the cards.
"There may be opportunities for us to swap certain assets," Vogel said.
"We’ve had various discussions with various parties about consolidating certain
markets. We would certainly look at that where we would potentially swap systems
in markets where we don’t have critical mass with somebody that does and maybe
pick up some of their assets in places where we have a little bit bigger
footprint. We’re actively looking at that."