Cablevision gets big new stakeholder, a Harbinger of things to come?

Cablevision has a new(ish) big stakeholder and things could get interesting as it is activist investor Harbinger Capital. According to a regulatory filing Harbinger now owns a combined 11 million shares in Cablevision through two funds as of June 30th, making it the 5th largest external stakeholder in the New York cable operator.

Harbinger, lest we forget, has been shoving around the media companies in which it has snapped up stakes to find to boost share prices, notably with New York Times and Media General earlier this year.

gabelli.jpgHarbinger will be joining Mario Gabelli (pictured left), of Gabelli & Co, which owns around 20 million Cablevision shares and has been very loudly pushing for the company to consider selling assets such as its cable networks. Gabelli wants Cablevision to use the funds from such an asset sale to buy back stock. Other big name Cablevision shareholders are ClearBridge Advisors (part of Legg Mason), T Rowe Price and London-based Marathon Asset Management.

Richard Greenfield of Pali Research, who brought the Harbinger filing to our attention, makes an interesting point that the top five stake holders now own 108 million of the total 295 million float. The Dolan family, who control the company, own around 72 million.

In Greenfield’s view:

This fact will help propel Cablevision shares if they begin to buy back shares in the fall.

Cablevision/Newsday synergies? Not quite

We thought we had a big story on our hands this afternoon when an email popped up in our Inbox proclaiming: “Newsday TV”.

Finally, Cablevision Chief Executive Jim Dolan is sticking it to the Doubting Thomases of Wall Street by serving up the synergies between his recent acquisition, the Long Island newspaper Newsday and his 3-million strong subscriber base of cable TV customers and cable networks, we thought.

It wasn’t anywhere close to what we imagined.

newsday-tv-landing-page.jpgYes, Cablevision has launched a new interactive Newsday channel. But the interactivity pretty much ends with an on-screen subscription form letting cable customers order up a Newsday subscription on TV screens and charged to cable bills.

Gabelli to Cablevision: Stop teasing!

gabelli.jpgIs silver-haired media investor Mario Gabelli playing matchmaker?

In an interview, he says that it’s about time Cablevision get down to business and hook up with Time Warner Cable. Gabelli, who runs hedge fund Gamco Investors,  a top Cablevision shareholder, tells Bloomberg the family run cable operator and networks company should be “making love with Time Warner Cable.”

Gabelli’s proposal goes much further than the potential moves proposed by Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan. Not content with just a stock buyback or a dividend or even just spinning off some businesses, Gabelli suggests Cablevision should do nothing less than break up the company and hand over the cash to shareholders.

It’s no secret how Time Warner Cable has coveted Cablevision’s New York area cable systems. On more than several occasions over the past decade, Time Warner has held talks to varying degrees to snatch the systems.

Falcone Crest: Spotted at Media General

bulls1.jpgWe poked a little fun at Harbinger Capital Partners honcho Phil Falcone for not being the most communicative guy when it comes to dealing with some of the companies that his hedge fund is busy badgering. Let us therefore be the first to tell you when he actually does show up.

Falcone made an appearance at Mario Gabelli’s investor forum on Tuesday at the Harvard Club in New York, where Media General’s chief executive Marshall Morton and Harbinger Vice President Joseph Cleverdon laid out their competing visions for the newspaper publisher and broadcaster’s future.

Falcone sat in the second row and didn’t ask any questions, according to a well informed source. Later, Morton approached Falcone, but it wasn’t quite the SALT talks. Here’s Morton’s account: