Another bite at the apple for John Malone to create a cable colossus.
Mike Blake / Reuters
Time Warner Cable may be rushing back to the altar in a deal to be bought out by cable billionaire John Malone's Charter Communications, a month after a takeover attempt by Comcast failed amid regulatory scrutiny.
Bloomberg News reported earlier Monday that Charter was close to a $55 billion cash-and-stock deal with Time Warner Cable, paying around $195 a share for the company. Combined with the sixth largest cable operator Bright House, which Charter agreed to buy earlier this year for over $10 billion, the combined cable company would solidify itself as number two to Comcast and give it more ability to negotiate with the studios and entertainment companies that provide content for cable operators.
Charter and Time Warner combined would have about 15 million residential cable customers and 17 million residential internet customers. Bright House has 2.5 million paying customers. Time Warner has an especially large presence in New York City and Los Angeles. Comcast has 22.4 million cable and internet customers.
Currently, Charter is the fourth largest cable operator in the country. Comcast's deal with Time Warner put the value of the company's stock at about $159 a share, or $45.2 billion. On Friday, Time Warner Cable's stock closed at a little over $171.
Representatives from Time Warner Cable and Charter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Charter bid just over $61 billion for Time Warner Cable early last year before being rejected in favor of Comcast. A successful acquisition of Time Warner Cable would be another feather in the cap of John Malone, who does not have an official role at Charter beyond being a member of its board of directors and its largest shareholder through his investment vehicle Liberty Broadband, which also owns a stake in Time Warner Cable.
Since Malone sold his cable company TCI to AT&T for over $55 billion in 1999, he has been feverishly making entertainment and cable deals around the world that are often highly complex, spinning together an empire that includes, under some form of his control or influence, SiriusXM, Discovery Communications, the overseas cable company Liberty Global, and the media company Liberty Media.
An acquisition of Time Warner Cable would have to be approved by regulators, who already essentially rejected Comcast's bid, and are still considering AT&T's proposed $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV, which was first announced in May of last year.