Robbins: No to All of Adelphia, Maybe to Some

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Cox Communications Inc. CEO Jim Robbins tried to squelch any rumors that the MSO would pursue an outright purchase of Adelphia Communications Corp., but he left the door open to partnering on an acquisition or buying a piece of the troubled MSO.

Cox has been vague in the past about its acquisition strategy, stating that it would make strategic acquisitions that are well-clustered, located in medium to large markets and at a price that would increase shareholder value.

Robbins reiterated that strategy on a conference call discussing Cox’s first-quarter results Thursday morning, but he went a step further.

“When we are asked if we are interested in a purchasing all of Adelphia, the answer is no,” Robbins said during the call. “What is important for us is the right systems, not just a whole bunch of disparate customers. You would expect us to continue to monitor the landscape and, if the right opportunity comes along and makes sense for our shareholders and fits the criteria that I’ve stated above, you could and should expect us to take a look.”

Adelphia announced April 22 that it would consider a sale of the company in conjunction with its plan to emerge intact from bankruptcy. Possible suitors for the Denver-based MSO include Comcast Corp., Time Warner Inc., Cox and Liberty Media Corp. So far however, no company has made a formal bid.

Despite the speculation concerning acquisitions, Cox reported strong results for the first quarter -- revenue was up 13% and operating cash flow rose 18%. Also in the quarter, Cox added 77,000 digital customers, 161,000 high-speed-data subscribers and 79,000 digital-telephone customers.