Saturday, January 25, 2014

Comcast, Charter Probably Will Team to Buy Time Warner Cable

With Charter Communications maneuvering to buy Time Warner Cable, Time Warner itself has signaled a preference for an acquisition by Comcast.

But that would be risky, in regulatory terms, as Comcast already is the largest U.S. cable company, with market share just above 30 percent, and gobbling the number-two U.S. operators would likely trigger a negative antitrust response.

So Charter Communications hopes Comcast will join Charter in a joint bid, with a prior agreement on how Time Warner Cable assets would be divided. 

Cable operators have experience with joint bids, and have in the past done precisely that. 

For Comcast, such an approach has benefits. For starters, Comcast would not acquire all of Time Warner Cable, just the New York assets. So while Comcast would get bigger, it would not get substantially bigger. That might mollify regulators and antitrust authorities.

Also, the New York market would have strategic value for Comcast, which would then be able to expand its business customer operations in a market with high business customer potential. 

Owning the metro New York assets also would better position Comcast for an eventual bid to buy Cablevision Systems, which operates on Long Island. 

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