Charter Communications to buy Time Warner Cable for $75b

John Malone's Charter Communications struck a US$56 billion (S$75.1 billion) deal to buy Time Warner Cable, seeking to combine the third and second largest US cable operators to better compete against market leader Comcast. -- PHOTO: AFP
John Malone's Charter Communications struck a US$56 billion (S$75.1 billion) deal to buy Time Warner Cable, seeking to combine the third and second largest US cable operators to better compete against market leader Comcast. -- PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - John Malone's Charter Communications struck a US$56 billion (S$75.1 billion) deal to buy Time Warner Cable, seeking to combine the third and second largest US cable operators to better compete against market leader Comcast.

Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband owns about 26 per cent, offered about US$195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share based on Charter's closing price on May 20, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at US$78.7 billion.

Pay TV companies such as Time Warner Cable and Charter have been experiencing slowing growth over the years as customers access TV shows and movies over the Internet through services provided by Netflix Inc and Hulu.

These traditional TV companies are now beefing up their fast-growing, higher-margin Internet businesses through consolidation and partnerships.

Charter's current bid is much higher than its first proposed deal, which Time Warner Cable rejected last year. It is also higher than the US$45 billion offer Time Warner Cable had accepted from Comcast.

Comcast nixed the agreement last month because of regulatory concerns that the company would sap too much competition out of the broadband market.

Charter said it will form a new public company, New Charter.

Time Warner Cable shareholders, other than Liberty Broadband, will receive US$115 in cash and New Charter shares equivalent to 0.4562 Charter shares.

Malone's Liberty Broadband will buy US$5 billion worth of New Charter shares.

Charter said it will also form a partnership with cable operator Bright House Networks's parent Advance/Newhouse that will result in New Charter owning 86-87 per cent of the partnership.

Charter will pay Advance/Newhouse US$2 billion in cash and units in the partnership. Charter had earlier agreed to buy Bright House for US$10.4 billion. Time Warner Cable shareholders, excluding Liberty, are expected to own about 40-44 per cent of New Charter and Liberty Broadband about 19-20 per cent.

Time Warner Cable's shares rose 8 per cent to US$185 in premarket trading, well below Charter's offer, suggesting concerns that the deal may face regulatory hurdles. Charter's stock was up 2.7 per cent at US$180.