Time Warner Cable, Charter expect deal closing in first quarter 2016, not 2015

Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:04pm EDT
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By Anya George Tharakan and Sai Sachin R

(Reuters) - Charter Communications Inc (CHTR.O: Quote) said its acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc TWC.N, which is awaiting clearance from U.S. regulators, is now expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, and not by the end of 2015 as planned.

The $56 billion deal, announced in May, is subject to intense regulatory scrutiny as the combined company would control a big swath of the U.S. cable and Internet market.

"Realistically, we think we're looking at a first-quarter close," Charter Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said on a call on Thursday to discuss the company's third-quarter results.

The deal has been approved by the shareholders of both companies and most U.S. states, but is awaiting clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

"From an operational perspective, we are working to be in a position to close as early as this year, but admittedly at this point that feels ambitious," a Time Warner Cable executive said on a post-earnings call, declining to provide details.

National Association of Broadcasters and Dish Network Corp (DISH.O: Quote) have separately petitioned the FCC to reject the proposed merger, which Dish said would be no better for public interest than Comcast's proposed deal.

Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: Quote) dropped a $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable in April after regulators raised concerns that the deal would give the market leader an unfair advantage.

The delay in closing the deal came as no surprise to analysts at MoffettNathanson and Evercore ISI. Charter also has a better chance of closing the deal than Comcast did, they said.   Continued...

Traders work at the post where Time Warner Cable is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in this May 26, 2015, file photo.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files