Cablevision Systems Corp. is close to a deal with Verizon Communications Inc.
to sell its personal-communications-systems wireless-telephone licenses for
about $700 million, sources said Wednesday night.
Cablevision has owned the licenses -- part of its Northcoast Communications
subsidiary -- for years. Analysts had estimated their value at between $500
million and $700 million.
Officials at Cablevision and Verizon declined comment.
Analysts have been expecting Cablevision to sell off its 50 PCS licenses --
which span from the New York metropolitan area to Maine -- for months.
Speculation heated up recently that Verizon could be the buyer after that
company was one of several wireless carriers freed from their obligation to buy
about $16 billion in wireless spectrum from NextWave Telecom Inc. Removing that
obligation freed up $8 billion for Verizon alone, making it the most likely
carrier to be interested in the Cablevision spectrum.
Northcoast has about 10 megahertz of spectrum in Boston and New York -- two
areas that would be most attractive to Verizon, which operates in the
Sources said Wednesday night that a deal could be announced before the end of
This would be the second major asset sale for Cablevision in less than one
month. In November, the company sold its Bravo cable channel to General Electric
Co.'s NBC television unit for $1.25 billion.
In that deal, Cablevision received about $1 billion in stock -- 53.2 million
shares of Cablevision stock that NBC owned, and about $300 million in GE stock.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which owned a 20 percent interest in the network,
received about $250 million in cash. The deal was closed Dec.