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US cable co. Charter charts IPO course

Wants to raise $3.45 billion

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The US' number four cable TV operator, Charter, yesterday said it intends to launch an IPO. Details as yet remain scarce -- more will be revealed in an upcoming filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission -- but the company did say it intends to raise $3.45 billion through the stock issue. It also said the IPO would be managed by several underwriters, including Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette and others. The money Charter makes on the IPO will primarily fund acquisitions, the company said, but since the cable TV provider also has ambitious technology roll-out plans, it's likely some of the proceeds will be used for that project too. What makes Charter interesting is the fact that it's owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. He will also be putting a further $2 billion into Charter, through its Charter Communications Holding Co., which has been formed to take ownership of Charter's cable infrastructure. ®

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