Feb 13 2014, 3:02am CST | by Forbes
Comcast has reportedly agreed to buy its smaller rival in an all-stock deal for roughly $159 a share, or $45 billion. The combination of the nation’s biggest and second biggest cable providers would create a behemoth with 33 million subscribers. To pass muster with anti-trust authorities and the FCC, Comcast is reportedly planning to divest cable systems with 3 million subscribers, keeping its share of the market below 30%.
The surprise deal is expected to be announced Thursday morning. It should end an eight-month-long pursuit of Time Warner Cable by Charter Communications and controlling shareholder John Malone, who had made three offers, the latest of which was worth $132.50 a share. On Tuesday, Charter had announced it would nominate 13 candidates for Time Warner Cable’s board who would presumably have been friendlier to Charter’s advances.
The deal thwarts Malone’s ambitions to reclaim a dominant position in the industry he helped to create in the 1980s. He sold TCI, then the nation’s largest cable company, to AT&T in 1999 for $54 billion. Last May the billionaire bought back in to the U.S. cable business, acquiring a 27% stake in Charter through his Liberty Media.
With many pay TV providers hemorrhaging subscribers and programming costs rising, Malone has been one of a number influential figures advocating industry consolidation.
Comcast, led by CEO Brian Roberts, had recently held talks with Charter to acquire some of Time Warner Cable’s East Coast units in the event that Charter succeeded in its bid, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apparently the company decided that wasn’t enough. Charter would be Comcast’s second industry-reshaping acquisition of the past few years, following the completion last year of its purchase of NBC Universal from GE.
Source: Forbes Business
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