Comcast plans to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal worth $45 billion in stock. News of the deal was reported a day after smaller rival Charter announced that it would nominate 13 directors to the Time Warner Cable board in an attempt to promote a hostile takeover. Time Warner Cable previously rejected a bid from Charter equivalent to $132.50 a share, saying the price would need to be $160 a share. The Comcast bid would come in at around a dollar less than that target.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced that their respective boards have approved a definitive agreement for Time Warner Cable to merge with Comcast.
Brian Roberts, the chairman and chief executive of Comcast Corporation called it “a compelling financial and strategic transaction for our shareholders”. His counterpart at Time Warner Cable said: “This combination creates a company that delivers maximum value for our shareholders, enormous opportunities for our employees and a superior experience for our customers.” Previously, he had said of the increasingly hostile takeover attempt by Charter: “we are not going to let Charter steal the company”.
The proposed deal would be subject to regulatory approval. Assuming it goes through, the combined cable company would be led by Neil Smit, the current chief executive of Comcast Cable. The companies said it would result in $1.5 billion in “operating efficiencies”.
Between them the two companies currently have 33 million cable television subscribers in the United States.
Comcast has been losing video subscribers but added 43,000 in the last quarter, ending 2013 with 21.65 million, down from 24.85 million at the end of 2007.
Time Warner Cable has also been consistently losing video customers in recent years, ending 2013 with 11.41 million, down from 13.30 million at the end of 2007.
The companies compete directly in relatively few markets. The combination of the two cable television and broadband operations would create a far larger business, with significant economies of scale and greater bargaining power when it comes to negotiating with media companies.
To appease competition concerns, Comcast says it is prepared to divest 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers as part of the acquisition, giving it a combined total of 30 million video subscribers, which is just under 30% of the national market.
Charter could be left to pick up the pieces, having apparently failed in its bid to become the number two cable company in the country.
At the end of 2009 Comcast announced its intention to take a majority stake in NBCUniversal. The deal went through in January 2011, subject to regulatory conditions, and Comcast acquired the remaining shares in the company in 2013.