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Altice to buy Cablevision for US$17.7b: source

French telecom group Altice President Patrick Drahi attends a ceremony with Polytechnic students at the cultural centre of "La Maison de l'Amerique Latine", following the financing of a foundation on Jun 24, 2015

[NEW YORK] European telecoms giant Altice, run by Franco-Israeli media magnate Patrick Drahi, is to buy the number-four US cable operator Cablevision for $17.7 billion, including debt, a source close to the deal told AFP Wednesday.

The deal - the latest in a series that has seen Altice emerge as a major telecoms player - was expected to be formally announced on Thursday, before the opening of European stock markets, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The acquisition of Cablevision, a family group created in 1973, will give the Luxembourg-based Altice access to the lucrative New York market.

Cablevision offers its Optimum digital cable television service in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

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The company, based in New York state, had more than 15,000 employees as of end-2014. Last year, it notched revenues of US$6.46 billion and net income of US$465 million.

Altice had already made a move into the US market in May when it bought 70 percent of Suddenlink Communications, the number seven US cable company, for US$9.1 billion.

Drahi's group is aiming to eventually generate half of its revenue in the United States, against the 15 per cent estimated by year's end.

Altice's portfolio ranges from French cable and mobile operator Numericable-SFR to the French daily Liberation and the L'Express weekly news magazine, as well as the Israeli TV station i24 News.