Cogeco owner rebuffs $8.4bn bid from Altice USA

The family that controls Canadian telecoms company Cogeco on Sunday night rebuffed a sweetened $8.4bn (C$11.1bn) hostile bid from Patrick Drahi’s US cable operation Altice USA.

Louis Audet, the executive chairman of Cogeco, said that his family was not interested in selling its shares.

“Members of the Audet family unanimously reject this further proposal,” Mr Audet said. “Since this is apparently not registering with Rogers and Altice, we repeat today that this is not a negotiating strategy, but a definitive refusal.”

Gestion Audem, the Audet family company that holds 69 per cent of the voting rights of Cogeco, had rejected a $7.8bn bid last month from Mr Drahi’s Altice USA and Canadian telecoms group Rogers Communications.

Mr Drahi is attempting to combine Cogeco’s US subsidiary Atlantic Broadband with Altice USA to give it greater heft as it competes with rivals including Comcast, Charter and Verizon.

Atlantic is among the largest US cable and broadband providers and counts 450,000 residential and business customers across 11 states on the east coast.

Rogers Communications has proposed buying Cogeco’s Canadian assets for $4.55bn. Rogers is among the largest holders of subordinate shares of Cogeco and its subsidiary Cogeco Communications, which both trade publicly in Toronto.

The Audet family would receive $682m for their multiple classes of shares in the company if they accept the bid, according to Altice USA. The US cable company had offered to pay C$123 to subordinate voting shareholders in Cogeco Inc and C$150 to subordinate shareholders of Cogeco Communications.

Dexter Goei, chief executive of Altice USA, said the revised offer had followed discussions with Cogeco shareholders.

“We encourage the Cogeco boards to act in the best interest of all shareholders and stakeholders as they thoughtfully consider this offer, and we respectfully request that the boards engage with us to discuss our proposal,” he added.

Altice said that it would rescind the takeover offer if it could not “see a clear path forward” to a deal by November 18. It added that it hoped to complete the takeover within nine months of signing an acquisition agreement.

A spokesperson for Cogeco directed media requests to the statement from Gestion Audem and declined to comment further.

Shares of Cogeco Inc rallied as much as 34 per cent in the days after Altice first unveiled its bid for the company in early September. The advance has been mostly erased since the offer was rejected.

“The stewardship the Audet family has provided to the corporations over the last 63 years has allowed the corporations to grow and prosper,” Mr Audet added.

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