Charter Communications is to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion. Charter will pay $55 billion in cash with the remainder in shares in the new company. The owners of Bright House will receive around $2 billion in cash and a minority stake in the new Charter company. The combination of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House will have around 17 million television customers, ranking third among pay-television providers in the United States.
“With our larger reach, we will be able to accelerate the deployment of faster internet speeds, state-of-the-art video experiences, and fully-featured voice products, at highly competitive prices,” said Tom Rutledge, the president and chief executive of Charter Communications, who will head the company. “Put simply, the scale of New Charter, along with the combined talents we can bring to bear, position us to deliver a communications future that will unleash the full power of the two-way, interactive cable network.”
Robert Marcus, the chairman and chief executive of Time Warner Cable, said the agreement “recognizes the unique value” of the company.
Time Warner Cable lost 344,000 television customers in the previous twelve months, although it made a modest gain of 30,000 in the last quarter, its first net additions in three years.
Steve Miron, the chief executive of Bright House Networks, said the combined company “will be in a stronger position to deliver competitive services, invest in advanced technology, and develop innovative products that will compete with global and national brands.”
The agreement is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close by the end of 2015.
Charter has 4.15 million television customers, while Time Warner Cable has 10.82 million. Bright House does not disclose subscriber numbers but is estimated to have around two million television customers. That would give the combined company around 17 million video subscribers, making it the third largest pay-television service provider in the United States, behind Comcast and DIRECTV but beating DISH Network.
Comcast had previously hoped to acquire Time Warner Cable but abandoned the plan after it met regulatory resistance on competition grounds. Charter and its main backer, John Malone, came back with a better offer to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal is likely to meet less opposition as it will create a stronger competitor to Comcast.
As cable companies consolidate to gain scale, smaller operators in the United States appear vulnerable. The previous week French telecommunications company Altice acquired a controlling stake in Suddenlink for $9 billion. Altice also had its sights set on Time Warner Cable, which prompted Charter to accelerate its deal.