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|CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, INC. /MO/ filed this Form 10-Q on 10/26/2017|
In September 2017, Charter Operating and Charter Communications Operating Capital Corp. jointly issued $1.25 billion aggregate principal amount of 4.200% senior notes due March 15, 2028 at a price of 99.757% of the aggregate principal amount and an additional $750 million aggregate principal amount of 5.375% senior secured notes due May 1, 2047 at a price of 98.969% of the aggregate principal amount. The net proceeds were used to pay related fees and expenses and for general corporate purposes, including to fund buybacks of Charter Class A common stock or Charter Holdings common units.
In October 2017, CCO Holdings and CCO Holdings Capital jointly issued $500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.000% senior notes due March 1, 2023 and an additional $1.0 billion aggregate principal amount of 5.000% senior notes due February 1, 2028 at a price of 98.5% of the aggregate principal amount. The net proceeds were used to pay related fees and expenses and for general corporate purposes, including to fund buybacks of Charter Class A common stock or Charter Holdings common units.
Overview of Our Contractual Obligations and Liquidity
We have significant amounts of debt. The principal amount of our debt as of September 30, 2017 was $66.8 billion, consisting of $8.8 billion of credit facility debt, $40.6 billion of investment grade senior secured notes and $17.4 billion of high-yield senior unsecured notes. Our business requires significant cash to fund principal and interest payments on our debt.
Our projected cash needs and projected sources of liquidity depend upon, among other things, our actual results, and the timing and amount of our expenditures. Free cash flow was $594 million and $2.9 billion for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2017, respectively, and was $1.0 billion and $1.5 billion for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, respectively. As of September 30, 2017, the amount available under our credit facilities was approximately $2.9 billion and cash on hand was approximately $2.2 billion. We expect to utilize free cash flow, cash on hand and availability under our credit facilities as well as future refinancing transactions to further extend the maturities of our obligations. The timing and terms of any refinancing transactions will be subject to market conditions. Additionally, we may, from time to time, and depending on market conditions and other factors, use cash on hand and the proceeds from securities offerings or other borrowings to retire our debt through open market purchases, privately negotiated purchases, tender offers or redemption provisions. We believe we have sufficient liquidity from cash on hand, free cash flow and Charter Operating’s revolving credit facility as well as access to the capital markets to fund our projected cash needs.
We continue to evaluate the deployment of our cash on hand and anticipated future free cash flow including to invest in our business growth and other strategic opportunities, including mergers and acquisitions as well as stock repurchases and dividends. Our target leverage remains at 4 to 4.5 times, and up to 3.5 times at the Charter Operating level. We may increase the total amount of our indebtedness to maintain leverage within our target leverage range. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2017, we purchased approximately 9.5 million and 21.9 million shares, respectively, of Charter Class A common stock for approximately $3.5 billion and $7.6 billion, respectively. As of September 30, 2017, Charter had remaining board authority to purchase an additional $5.2 billion of Charter’s Class A common stock without taking into account shares or units that may be purchased from A/N. Charter is not obligated to acquire any particular amount of common stock, and the timing of any purchases that may occur cannot be predicted and will largely depend on market conditions and other potential uses of capital. Purchases may include open market purchases, tender offers or negotiated transactions. As possible acquisitions, swaps or dispositions arise, we actively review them against our objectives including, among other considerations, improving the operational efficiency, clustering, product development or technology capabilities of our business and achieving appropriate return targets, and we may participate to the extent we believe these possibilities present attractive opportunities. However, there can be no assurance that we will actually complete any acquisitions, dispositions or system swaps, or that any such transactions will be material to our operations or results.
In December 2016, Charter and A/N entered into a letter agreement (the "Letter Agreement") that requires A/N to sell to Charter or to Charter Holdings, on a monthly basis, a number of shares of Charter Class A common stock or Charter Holdings common units that represents a pro rata participation by A/N and its affiliates in any repurchases of shares of Charter Class A common stock from persons other than A/N effected by Charter during the immediately preceding calendar month, at a purchase price equal to the average price paid by Charter for the shares repurchased from persons other than A/N during such immediately preceding calendar month. A/N and Charter both have the right to terminate or suspend the pro rata repurchase arrangement on a prospective basis once Charter or Charter Holdings have repurchased shares of Class A common stock or Charter Holdings common units from A/N and its affiliates for an aggregate purchase price of $537 million which threshold has been reached. Charter Holdings purchased from A/N 1.4 million Charter Holdings common units at an average price per unit of $355.83, or $493 million during the three months ended September 30, 2017, and 2.7 million Charter Holdings common units at an average price per unit of $341.49, or $922 million during the nine months ended September 30, 2017.