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Charter Communications Close To $55 Billion Deal To Buy Time Warner Cable: Report

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/charter-deal-buy-time-warner-cable-report-article-1.2234992

Fresh off its failed merger with Comcast, Time Warner Cable reportedly was speeding Monday toward a link with Charter Communications for a whopping $55 billion.

Charter and its billionaire backer John Malone offered to pay $195 per share in the blockbuster deal, with $100 coming from cash and the rest from stock, Bloomberg News reported.

That's about 14% higher than Time Warner Cable's closing stock price Friday and nearly 48% higher than Charter's original $37.8 billion bid for its rival last year.

Charter, the nation's fourth largest cable operator, would add its roughly 5 million subscribers to the more than 15 million already signed up with Time Warner Cable and catapult to second place behind only Comcast's 27 million customers.

The potential acquisition would cap a lengthy quest by Charter to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry.

Time Warner Cable originally rebuffed Charter by calling its 2014 bid worth about $132 per share "grossly inadequate" and demanding at least $160 per share.

The New York-based company then pursued a $45.2 billion merger with Comcast that would have united the top two operators but ultimately fell apart amid criticism from federal antitrust regulators and consumer groups.

Charter quickly stepped in with its richer rebound offer and could announce the new acquisition agreement as early as Tuesday, Bloomberg said.

Time Warner Cable representative Ellen East and Charter spokesman Justin Venech both declined to comment on the talks between their companies.

Time Warner Cable previously rejected Charter’s offer of $132 per share in 2014. MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Time Warner Cable previously rejected Charter’s offer of $132 per share in 2014.

Cable companies are facing new challenges and searching for new ways to grow as more and more consumers cut the so-called cord and stream their TV shows directly from Netflix, Amazon, HBO and other services over a variety of broadband connections.

The proposed deal is already raising eyebrows.

“This might not be quite as abusive as the Comcast deal, which would have put about 57% of broadband access with Comcast, but I still think it's potentially problematic. It's going to be another huge operation with maybe 30% of the market concentrated in one company,” John M. Simpson with ConsumerWatchdog.org told the Daily News Monday.

“My initial reaction is to question this very closely.”

With News Wire Services

ndillon@nydailynews.com