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|CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, INC. /MO/ filed this Form 10-Q on 10/26/2017|
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
(dollars in millions, except per share amounts and where indicated)
The Company has agreements with certain equity-method investees pursuant to which the Company has made or received related party transaction payments. The Company recorded payments to equity-method investees totaling $62 million and $208 million during the three and nine months ended September 30, 2017, respectively, and $67 million and $108 million during the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, respectively. The Company recorded advertising revenues from transactions with equity-method investees totaling $3 million and $8 million during the three and nine months ended September 30, 2017, respectively, and $3 million and $4 million during the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, respectively.
In August 2015, a purported stockholder of Charter, Matthew Sciabacucchi, filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery, on behalf of a putative class of Charter stockholders, challenging the transactions between Charter, TWC, A/N, and Liberty Broadband announced by Charter on May 26, 2015. The lawsuit names as defendants Liberty Broadband, Legacy Charter, the board of directors of Charter, and Charter. Plaintiff alleged that the Liberty Transactions improperly benefit Liberty Broadband at the expense of other Charter shareholders, and that Charter issued a false and misleading proxy statement in connection with the Transactions and the Liberty Transactions. Plaintiff requested, among other things, that the Delaware Court of Chancery enjoin the September 21, 2015 special meeting of Charter stockholders at which Charter stockholders were asked to vote on the Transactions and the Liberty Transactions until the defendants disclosed certain information relating to Charter, the Transactions and the Liberty Transactions. The disclosures demanded by the plaintiff included (i) certain unlevered free cash flow projections for Charter and (ii) a Form of Proxy and Right of First Refusal Agreement (“Proxy”) by and among Liberty Broadband, A/N, Legacy Charter and Charter, which was referenced in the description of the Second Amended and Restated Stockholders Agreement, dated May 23, 2015, among Legacy Charter, Charter, Liberty Broadband and A/N. On September 9, 2015, Charter issued supplemental disclosures containing unlevered free cash flow projections for Charter. In return, the plaintiff agreed its disclosure claims were moot and withdrew its application to enjoin the Charter stockholder vote on the Transactions and the Liberty Transactions. Charter filed a motion to dismiss this litigation and on May 31, 2017, the court issued an opinion, concluding a number of issues but reserving ruling on Charter’s motion until further briefing can be done regarding whether plaintiff’s claims are direct or derivative. The parties are presently providing the additional briefing that the court seeks. Charter denies any liability, believes that it has substantial defenses, and intends to vigorously defend this suit. Although Charter is unable to predict the outcome of this lawsuit, it does not expect the outcome will have a material effect on its operations, financial condition or cash flows.
The California Attorney General and the Alameda County, California District Attorney are investigating whether certain of Legacy Charter’s waste disposal policies, procedures and practices are in violation of the California Business and Professions Code and the California Health and Safety Code. That investigation was commenced in January 2014. A similar investigation involving Legacy TWC was initiated in February 2012. Charter is cooperating with these investigations. While the Company is unable to predict the outcome of these investigations, it does not expect that the outcome will have a material effect on its operations, financial condition, or cash flows.
On December 19, 2011, Sprint Communications Company L.P. (“Sprint”) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas alleging that Legacy TWC infringed 12 U.S. patents purportedly relating to Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services. Over the course of the litigation Sprint dismissed its claims relating to five of the asserted patents, and shortly before trial Sprint dropped its claims with respect to two additional patents. A trial on the remaining five patents began on February 13, 2017. On March 3, 2017 the jury returned a verdict of $140 million against Legacy TWC and further concluded that Legacy TWC had willfully infringed Sprint’s patents. The court subsequently declined to enhance the damage award as a result of the purported willful infringement. On May 30, 2017, the court awarded Sprint an additional $6 million, representing pre-judgment interest on the damages award. On June 28, 2017, the Company filed its notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In addition to its appeal, the Company will continue to pursue indemnity from one of its vendors. The impact of the verdict was reflected in the adjustment to net current liabilities as described in Note 2. The Company does not expect that the outcome of this litigation will have a material adverse effect on its operations or financial condition. The ultimate outcome of this litigation or the pursuit of indemnity against the Company’s vendor cannot be predicted.
On October 23, 2015, the New York Office of the Attorney General (the “NY AG”) began an investigation of Legacy TWC's advertised Internet speeds and other Internet product advertising. On February 1, 2017, the NY AG filed suit in the Supreme Court for the State of New York alleging that Legacy TWC's advertising of Internet speeds was false and misleading. The suit seeks restitution and injunctive relief. On May 26, 2017, the Company moved to dismiss the NY AG’s complaint. The Company intends to defend itself vigorously. However, no assurances can be made that such defenses would ultimately be successful. At this time,