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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Charter Communications Fails to Make Payments

As posted by: Wall Street Journal

Charter Communications Inc. said two units didn't make scheduled interest payments of $73.7 million due Thursday as the debt-laden cable-TV provider continues to talk with bondholders about restructuring its debt.

If the interest payments on the $1.15 billion notes aren't made within the 30-day grace period provided, Charter would default on the notes. The company said Thursday such a default would not trigger cross-defaults on any other debt.

Talks began last month to explore financing options to improve Charter's balance sheet. The company, controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, warned last year it could be forced to seek bankruptcy protection if it failed to raise additional funds to finance its cash needs by 2010.

Charter and its units have more than $900 million in cash on hand and cash equivalents available to pay operating costs and expenses. They had $21.03 billion in long-term debt outstanding as of Sept. 30.

Last month, Moody's Investors Service lowered one of the company's ratings, saying default was likely imminent. Standard & Poor's Ratings Service echoed Moody's concerns, while Fitch Ratings put Charter's issuer default rating on watch for possible cuts.