According to the Wall Street Journal, Charter is preparing to follow through again with a Time Warner Cable bid. There probably isn’t anyone in the industry that will be surprised by that, but the price tag is apparently going to be rather higher this time than last.
Analysts are expecting more than $170 per share, above what Comcast had won TWC’s favor with last time at $158.82, and way above the mere $132.50 that Charter offered prior to that. That prior bid was unsolicited, but Charter is taking the friendly route this time. They are also still working on the Bright House deal, which TW Cable also has a stake in, so there’s quite a bit on the table at the moment.
Meanwhile, with French-based Altice and its own billionaire backer sniffing around, Charter may want to close the deal before things get even more complicated. But surely Charter has the better potential synergies, and Malone won’t let the opportunity slip away twice.
The end of the Comcast/TWC deal on regulatory concerns last month opened up the field, and the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is said to be reassuring everyone that cable consolidation is entirely ok with him – except for that particular case.
Put it all together, and the whole Charter/TWC/Bright House thing is looking inevitable right now. There’s not much mystery left unless TW Cable gets reluctant again.
My question, though, is where Comcast goes next now that it’s apparently not allowed to buy substantial cable assets for inorganic growth. I’ve speculated in the past that it could be toward a broader enterprise networking business, but supposedly DT is actively looking for a partner on T-Mobile USA. Surely that has to be an interesting option…
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I think the other real M&A option Comcast would have is Univision which has been on the blocks for a period of time. TMUS makes less industrial sense without the national foorprint that would have been possible with TWC or a partnership with Sprint. Altice obviously is going in another direction with the reuters report this morning that they are lining up financing for TWC.