Allen, Comcast Put Off `Put'


Comcast Corp. agreed to wait a little longer to collect $725 million from Paul Allen from the sale of a joint-venture

Comcast and Allen, chairman and principal owner of Charter Communications Inc., said they'd wait up to 30 days to close the sale to Allen of Comcast's interest in CC VIII LLC, a joint venture with Charter.

Instead of closing Monday (April 14), the sale is expected to close in May, the companies said.

Comcast holds 24.3 million preferred membership units in the Charter subsidiary and has a "put" option to sell them
back to Allen.

Comcast got the units from AT&T Broadband, which owned a stake in Bresnan Communications when Bresnan sold out to Charter in 2000.

UBS Warburg LLC analyst Aryeh Bourkoff said in a research note that the $725 million was part of Comcast's "asset-monetization
program" and thus could be "viewed negatively" for Comcast.

But he noted that the press release indicated that this would be "only a slight delay" and could be met after Charter files its delayed 10-K annual report.

Charter's auditor, KPMG International, likely wants to see Allen's resources devoted to Charter and not to outside obligations for now, Bourkoff said.

UBS on April 8 upgraded Charter Communications Holdings bonds to "buy" from "hold."

Charter's 10-K filing is due Tuesday, the end of a 15-day extension.

The analyst said Allen might compensate Comcast for the delay once the deal closes.

Late Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Allen might be offering Comcast a Charter cable system -- possibly in Texas or New England -- instead of cash.

Allen would probably have to pay Charter a reasonable price, in cash, in order for Charter's bankers to sign off on such an arrangement, Bourkoff said in another note Tuesday.