Altice is assessing a $185 billion bid for the US’ second largest cable company Charter Communications, potentially pitting the company against Softbank, which is mulling its own offer.

A Financial Times report revealed Altice is yet to make an official approach for Charter, but was considering the deal to improve the position of its Altice USA subsidiary, the country’s fourth largest cable company with 4.9 million customers following acquisitions of Cablevision for $17.7 billion in 2015 and Suddenlink for $9.1 billion in 2016.

According to the newspaper’s sources, one of the major issues standing in the way would be securing the debt-based finance required and persuading 21 per cent Charter shareholder John Malone to agree the sale.

Last week, Bloomberg reported SoftBank was preparing its own bid for Charter as part of a wider plan to merge the cable company with US wireless operator Sprint.

SoftBank held separate talks with Charter and fellow cable company Comcast in July about a tie-up with Sprint after the two cable operators expressed a desire to enter the wireless sector.

A deal for Charter and its 26 million subscribers would swiftly increase the scale of Altice’s US operation, which was the subject of a partial IPO in June, raising $1.9 billion.

The company’s strategy is based on aggressive growth through acquisition. The company gained a range of communications and media assets across the US, France and Portugal.

In addition to speculation on its cable ambitions in the US, earlier today it emerged Altice increased its stake in France’s second largest operator SFR to 95 per cent. The company revealed it would offer to buy-out the remaining 5 per cent held during September at an offer price of €34.50 per share.