Comcast and Time Warner Cable could offload between 3 million and 5 million customers to Charter Communications, according to a Financial Times report. Executives from all three companies have met in recent days and negotiations remain ongoing, the report says. Selling off a sizable chunk of customers could help better the odds of Comcast's TWC acquisition getting a thumbs up from federal regulators. The company has already said it's willing to sell 3 million subscribers to a competing cable provider if the historic buyout is approved. Comcast claims those assets and subscribers would be worth a total of $17 billion, a figure that would climb if the company winds up letting go of 5 million customers.
If a deal can be worked out, it would be a decent consolation prize for Charter, the fourth-largest US cable company. Before Comcast announced its controversial proposal, Charter had put in its own bid for Time Warner Cable. At one point, Charter reportedly weighed selling several valuable markets to Comcast if it helped fund the deal. But Charter's offer was met with stiff resistance from TWC executives, and soon after the company found itself blindsided by Comcast. Charter felt betrayed by its more powerful competitor, according to The Los Angeles Times.
But it seems those wounds are already healing, as now the opposite scenario is playing out. The Financial Times says that Comcast and Time Warner Cable could simply hand over affected customers if all parties agree to a sale, but they're also considering spinning off those subscriptions into a new company — a situation that would see Charter rewarded with a "substantial minority stake."