BETHPAGE, N.Y. -- Cablevision Systems Corp. said Thursday
that its board has approved a plan to spin off as a separate
company its Madison Square Garden business, owner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and the famed sports arena where they play.
In a widely anticipated move, the Bethpage, N.Y. company said it
plans to spin off the unit to its existing shareholders by the end
of the year.
The company said the separation of its Madison Square Garden
operations is expected to make it easier for investors because each
company will now have distinct businesses. Without a spin-off or
sale, cable investors buying shares of Cablevision have little
choice but to contend with its entertainment businesses.
Cablevision said James Dolan, its chief executive, also will
take on the role of executive chairman of the spun-off Madison
Square Garden group. Hank Ratner, Cablevision's vice chairman, will
add the titles of president and CEO of the new company.
Cablevision said it is not considering a sale of Madison Square
Garden or any of its businesses, as well as any other operations of
the cable operator.
The diversified cable operator also reported an 8 percent drop
in second-quarter earnings despite climbing revenue.
Cablevision said it earned $87 million, or 29 cents per share,
in the most recent quarter, compared with $94.7 million, or 32
cents per share a year ago. Sales rose 9.8 percent to $1.88
Results were roughly in line with analysts' expectations,
according to Thomson Reuters.