Analyst: Dolan to Meet With Key Shareholders Next Week

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A little more than a week after announcing that he would solicit shareholder input in investigating ways to close the valuation gap at Cablevision Systems, company CEO James Dolan is planning to meet with key investors next week to do just that.

According to a report by Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield, Dolan, Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge and chief financial officer Michael Huseby will selectively meet with the company’s top 20 shareholders next week.

“We view this as a clear sign that the Dolan family is seriously interested in some form of buyback/dividend and/or spin of non-core assets,” Greenfield wrote.

According to executives in the financial community, Dolan, Rutledge and Huseby will be squired by none other than Gamco Investors, the group of funds run by major Cablevision shareholder Mario Gabelli. Gabelli said last week that he had offered his firm’s services to Dolan to meet investors and apparently the CEO took him up on the offer.

An executive familiar with both companies said that Gabelli & Co., Gamco's institutional research and brokerage affiliate, has set up meetings between top Cablevision shareholders such as T. Rowe Price and management for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

Gamco officials had no comment.

Greenfield wrote in his note that he hoped that Cablevision would broaden the audience (he wrote that Pali has also requested a meeting) given that the company hasn’t sat down with investors since its last attempt to take Cablevision private.

Cablevision spokesman Charles Schueler declined comment.

Last week during Cablevision’s second quarter conference call with analysts, Dolan said the company was actively pursuing alternatives to close the gap between public and private valuations of the MSO. Earlier this week Cablevision’s board of directors said that it had authorized management to explore several strategies “for bringing the market value of the company’s common stock more closely in line with the underlying operating performance of the company.”

Cablevision shares were up 67 cents each (2.5%) to $27.82 per share in early trading Thursday.

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