As bids for US cable operator Adelphia Communications were delivered on deadline (January 31), the main contenders appear to be cable giants Comcast and Time Warner acting together against an alliance of private equity firms.
Adelphia, America's fifth largest cable TV company, presently operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has priced itself at a minimum of $17.5 billion (€13.4bn, £9.2bn).
The board of directors says it will accept bids for the whole company or any of seven regional clusters, all of which contain parts from the best and worst performing systems.
However, Adelphia would probably prefer simply to sell to one bidder. The Comcast-Time Warner venture is believed to be ahead of the game because the two companies are in a better position to cut costs and improve Adelphia's margins.
Among the private equity bidders are Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Providence Equity Partners, expected to offer their own joint approach.
An alternative scenario is for Adelphia, with its 5.3 million subscribers, to be brought out of bankruptcy proceedings by major creditor W R Huff Asset Management and to resume business under its own steam.
Adelphia, based in Colorado, filed for bankruptcy in 2002 after top executives, including founder John Rigas and two of his sons, were ousted following allegations they tried to hide $2.3 billion in debt.
The Rigases were subsequently indicted on securities fraud charges. In July 2004, John and Tim Rigas were found guilty of securities fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy by a federal jury.
Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff