Charter Completes Debt Deal, Buys Back Stock

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Charter Communications completed a $927 million debt tender, while it also acquired $200 million worth of stock and agreed to purchase an additional $321 million of shares in private transactions, the company announced Thursday.

The MSO's previously announced cash tender offers for notes due 2012, 2014 and 2016 for debt securities up to $1 billion expired Dec. 28. Charter paid $407 million for the 2012 notes and $234 million for the 2014 notes, the company said. Investors offered $669.4 million in 2016 notes of which Charter accepted $286 million.

Charter's stock closed up 1.2% Thursday, to $56.88 per share.

Under the share repurchase program, announced Aug. 9, 2011, Charter acquired approximately 4.125 million shares of Class A common stock for a total of $200 million, or an average of $48.48 per share.

In addition, Charter agreed to purchase an additional 5.891 million shares in privately negotiated transactions for an average of $54.46 per share. The company entered into a stock repurchase agreement with an unidentified shareholder to purchase 750,000 shares at $55.18, and subsequently agreed to acquire an aggregate of 5.141 million shares from certain funds affiliated with Oaktree Capital Management and Apollo Management Holdings at the price of $54.35 per share.

In total, in 2011 Charter will have repurchased a total of 14.5 million shares, or 12.7% of its outstanding shares at the beginning of the year. According to the company, its leverage ratio would have been 4.8 times net debt to the last 12 months of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) on a pro-forma basis as of Sept. 30, 2011.

"The repurchases demonstrate Charter's and the board's confidence about the company's future," outgoing Charter president and CEO Mike Lovett said in a statement. "In 2011 we have repurchased 12.7% of the Company's outstanding shares at an average price of $50.17, which reflects a series of strategic opportunities to deliver value to our shareholders."

Charter last week named Tom Rutledge, formerly chief operating officer of Cablevision Systems, to be president and CEO effective Feb. 13, 2012.

Following the stock repurchases, according to Charter, Apollo will continue to own 33.541 million shares of Class A common stock representing 33.26% of outstanding shares and Oaktree will hold 16.615 million shares, or 16.56% of outstanding shares. The company expects to close the privately negotiated transactions by Friday (Dec. 30).

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