Charter Communications is reportedly bolstering its aggressive plan to take over Time Warner Cable by bringing Comcast in as backup. According to Bloomberg, Charter and Comcast are close to striking a deal that would sell significant TWC assets to Comcast if Charter's buyout attempt goes through. The deal would both provide Charter with much-needed funding to finance the offer and remove Comcast — a cable provider bigger than both Charter and TWC — from the list of potential bidders. Removing Comcast as a potential buyer will also help Charter convince TWC's stockholders that they're unlikely to see a better bid than what it's offering.
TWC's New York City, New England, and North Carolina assets would go to Comcast
The deal would give TWC's New York City, New England, and North Carolina cable assets to Comcast if Charter's purchase of TWC goes through, reports Bloomberg. TWC is said to have around 3 million subscribers throughout those markets. But Charter's success in buying TWC is still far from certain. Its offer has been rebuffed by TWC three times now, with TWC's executives making it clear that they felt its offer — reportedly $132.50 per share (around $37.4 billion in cash and stock) — was too low. Charter has since begun appealing directly to TWC's shareholders in an attempt to have them begin pushing for the buyout on their own.
According to Bloomberg, TWC's shareholders are looking for at least $140 per share — higher than Charter's latest offer, but lower than the $150-$160 per share than TWC execs have been seeking. Charter will reportedly borrow $20 billion to finance the deal, with funding from Comcast sitting on top of that. For Comcast, making a deal with Charter may also give it a way to get a piece of TWC while avoiding major regulatory hurdles that likely would have threatened the deal had it gone in on its own.
Though Charter is a smaller company than TWC, it appears to see this as an auspicious time to begin building for the future. One of the major catalysts of this aggressive stance is John Malone, the so-called Darth Vader of the cable industry, who's taken a stake in Charter through his Liberty Media investment group. Despite his reputation, convincing enough shareholders will still be a struggle, but we may see how the takeover attempt plays out soon. Bloomberg reports that Charter plans to make a direct offer to TWC shareholders in February, when it'll also try to place its own selections on TWC's board.