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IPO May Fund 'Wired World'

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen may sell $2 billion to $3 billion worth of stock in his cable company, Charter Communications Inc., through an initial public offering.

Charter, the nation's seventh-largest cable company, could launch the IPO in the second half of the year if market conditions are good, spokeswoman Anita Lamont said Wednesday.

The sale would be the largest ever in the cable industry and could rank among the richest of any kind.

The proceeds would be used to fund more acquisitions by Charter, which has been expanding rapidly as part of Allen's plan to assemble a Â"wired worldÂ" portfolio of entertainment and technology businesses.

Allen, who also owns football's Seattle Seahawks and basketball's Portland Trail Blazers, has been amassing cable holdings with the hopes that demand will increase for high-speed Internet access and phone services over cable lines, which have much greater capacity than phone lines.

St. Louis-based Charter has five pending acquisitions that are due to close by late summer, giving the company 3.4 million subscribers.

Charter's first cable purchase was a takeover last year of Marcus Cable Co., then the nation's largest privately held cable operator.

The IPO plans, first reported in Wednesday's USA Today, came with investors bidding up cable TV stocks on hopes that cable lines will be used for more than just television services in the future.