Charter Communications nears $55 billion deal for Time Warner Cable - sources

Mon May 25, 2015 6:04pm EDT
 
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By Liana B. Baker and Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) - Time Warner Cable Inc is nearing an agreement to be acquired by smaller peer Charter Communications Inc for about $55 billion, combining the second and third largest U.S. cable operators, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

A deal would create a major rival to Comcast Corp, the biggest operator in the U.S. cable and broadband market, and marks a triumph for Charter, which was rejected by Time Warner Cable just last year.

News of another potential merger comes as the traditional pay television industry faces stagnating growth and new competition from over-the-web rivals offering individual services, like Netflix, or packages of channels, such as Sony. A larger company in this sector could achieve greater economies of scale, including in negotiations with programmers.

The cash-and-stock deal values Time Warner Cable at $195 per share, according to sources, and comes just one month after Comcast dropped its $45.2 billion merger agreement with Time Warner Cable, clinched in February 2014, over antitrust concerns.

Time Warner Cable shares closed at $171.18 on Friday. That is up substantially from the day before the original Comcast deal was announced last year, when the shares closed at $135.31.

A merger of Charter and Time Warner Cable, with other related deals, would eliminate one of the country's top Internet providers and control more than 20 percent of the broadband market, according to data from MoffettNathanson.

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal rejected by regulators would have created a provider with roughly 40 percent of the U.S. high-speed Internet market.

Charter hopes its deal for Time Warner Cable will be viewed more favorably by regulators. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler reached out to the chief executives of the two companies last week to convey that the agency is not opposed to any and all cable deals, The Wall Street Journal reported. Any deal would be considered on its own merits, the paper quoted Wheeler as saying.   Continued...

 
A Time Warner Cable office is pictured in San Diego, California October 15, 2014. 
 REUTERS/Mike Blake