Light Reading

Comcast to Send Subs to Charter if TWC Deal Closes

Dan Jones

Cable operator Comcast says it will divest 3.9 million customers and help to make Charter the second largest cable operator in the US through subscriber transfers if its bid to buy Time Warner Cable closes. (See Comcast-TWC Deal: Playing All the Numbers.)

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) unveiled the three-stage deal Monday. If Comcast's $45.2 billion bid for Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is approved and closes, the cable companies expect to take the following steps:

  • Comcast will divest approximately 1.4 million existing Time Warner Cable customers directly to Charter Communications Inc. for cash. Charter plans to fund that expansion through debt. (See Comcast, Charter Talking Turkey? )

  • Comcast and Charter will exchange assets serving approximately 1.6 million existing Time Warner Cable customers and 1.6 million Charter customers.

  • Comcast is also creating and spinning off a new publicly traded cable provider to cater to about 2.5 million of its existing customers. Charter will form a new holding company will have a 33% stake in the Comcast spin-off. Comcast and former Time Warner Cable shareholders will own the remaining 67% of the new entity. (See What's Next for TWC.)

    If this deal gets done, Charter will become the second-largest cable operator in the US. The deal would increase Charter's current residential and commercial video customer base from 4.4 million to approximately 5.7 million.

    — Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/29/2014 | 1:23:33 PM
    Comcast to Send Subs to Charter if TWC Deal Closes
    @Phil_Britt, I agree.  This definitely would result in a megaplayer that can, if it chooses, dominate the market.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/29/2014 | 1:20:19 PM
    Comcast to Send Subs to Charter if TWC Deal Closes
    @MikeP688, interesting thought.  Yes, they are out of the equation.  It appears that Comcast is viewing this as a battle of the full systems, and may be viewing AT&T and Verizon as just telecom networks?  This may be a miscalculation?
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/29/2014 | 9:29:34 AM
    First Step
    While this planned divesture of customers can help smooth over some objections to the proposed merger, I still think the biggest hurdle will be convincing regulators that Comcast will provide a level field for other content providers.

    This harkens back to the days when there were only the three big networks and, in some markets, local station(s). That led to numerous regulations regarding control of the airwaves. While cable, OTT, etc., have made those rules meaningless, I still expect plenty of objections from other content providers.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/29/2014 | 8:38:02 AM
    Re: Comcast to Send Subs to Charter if TWC Deal Closes
    The strategic view is vital especially as the alternatives continue to evolve--including Hulu/Netflix.  Although Netflix seems to have seen the writing on the wall with deals it has made for increased traffic/etc.    What I find interesting is how AT&T and Verizon are out of the "mix" in this debate and how they would fare as the "dealing making" continues onward. :-) 
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/28/2014 | 10:01:34 PM
    Comcast to Send Subs to Charter if TWC Deal Closes
    @kq4ym, I agree that this will continue to spin through several iterations and negotiations.

    I note though that they are putting together some joint ventures that give Comcast a strong equity position.  It looks like they may be dividing up the pie, but putting together a strategic plan that will be profitable.

    This will be interesting to watch from several fronts.

    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/28/2014 | 5:37:08 PM
    Unloading Customers
    Taking alomst 4 million customers off the Comcast list seems like a heavy loss. But, under the scrutiny their likely to receive, they've got to seem like good guys to get where they want to be. I'm sure this won't be the end of the negotiations and offers made before the final settlement dust falls.
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