Altice has agreed to buy the American cable company Cablevision in a deal worth $17.7 billion. The European telecommunications group announced the acquisition of Suddenlink earlier this year. It will make Altice the fourth largest cable operator in the United States.

Cablevision operates in the New York metropolitan area, covering New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The company has faced strong competition from Verizon with its FiOS service.

Cablevision currently has 2.64 million digital cable television customers for its Optimum branded service. It has been consistently losing television subscribers, down by 231,000 over two years.

The deal includes Lightpath, the business services division, News 12 Networks, the local news operation, the Newsday and amNewYork newspapers, and the advertising sales division.

The Dolan family has run Cablevision since it was founded in 1973. Chief executive James Dolan said the family would move forward with its other concerns, AMC Networks and The Madison Square Garden Company.

Cablevision generated $6.525 million in revenue and $1.858 million in adjusted free cash flow in the 12 months to June 2015.

Altice says Cablevision will benefit from additional international operational expertise, enhanced scale and further investment support.

Altice is paying $3.3 billion in cash. The rest of the deal will be financed by external investment.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2016, subject to regulatory approval.

A day before the Cablevision announcement, Altice said it was selling Cabovisão and ONI in Portugal to Apax France. The disposal was a regulatory requirement following the Altice acquisition of PT Portugal from OI.

Altice also controls Numericable-SFR in France and HOT in Israel, among other services.

Altice clearly has an ambitious strategy to acquire telecommunications companies, not only in Europe but also the United States.

The group is lead by Patrick Drahi, ranked by Forbes as the 60th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $15 billion.

He said of the Cablevision deal: “We will be in a stronger position, as in all other markets in which we operate, to deliver the best services, invest in the most advanced technology, and develop innovative products for the benefit of our customers.”

While operating with independent financial structures, Cablevision and Suddenlink will draw upon management from both companies and create operating efficiencies and economies of scale.

Suddenlink has 0.86 million digital television subscribers, 14,500 fewer than two years previously.

Cablevision and Suddenlink currently rank 8 and 10 respectively among services in the United States in the informitv Multiscreen Index.

With the acquisition of Cablevision and Suddenlink, Altice will have more television subscribers than Vivendi or Televisa.

Dexter Goei, the chief executive of Altice, described the acquisition as “the next step in Altice’s long-term oriented strategy in the United States”.

Other targets could include Mediacom and the privately held Cox Communications.