European telecommunications and cable company Altice has agreed to buy New York cable operator Cablevision for $17.7 billion, including debt. Altice announced the deal today before European financial markets opened, and Cablevision says the family-controlled company considered that "the time is right for new ownership of Cablevision." The move is part of Netherlands-based Altice's aggressive expansion in the US. It announced a $9.1 billion deal for Suddenlink, a smaller cable company based in St. Louis, in May. Cablevision's shares jumped 14% to $32.65 before the opening bell.
Altice says the deal—to be completed in the first half of next year, pending regulatory approval—will be financed with $14.5 billion of debt at Cablevision plus cash from both companies. Altice SA, controlled by founder Patrick Drahi, has expanded from a small regional Internet and cable provider in France's Alsace region to making the $18.5 billion acquisition last year of France's No. 2 mobile phone operator, SFR. Earlier this year, Altice bought Portugal Telecom for $8.4 billion. It also has operations in Belgium, Switzerland, Israel, and elsewhere, but aims for half of its portfolio to be US business, says CEO Dexter Goei. (Read more Cablevision stories.)