Light Reading

Charter/Comcast Tap Willner for Spinoff

Mari Silbey
5/15/2014
50%
50%

Industry veteran Michael Willner is ready to be a big-time cable CEO once again.

Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) have announced that the former co-founder and CEO of Insight Communications has agreed to serve as president and CEO of "SpinCo," the cable spinoff that Comcast plans to create after it completes its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). Under the plan, SpinCo would inherit approximately 2.5 million customers from current Comcast and TWC markets across Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Willner left Insight in 2012 after selling the company to Time Warner Cable. He is currently president and CEO of Penthera Partners Inc. , the private software company focused on cloud and mobile technologies. Penthera powers some of the components in Comcast's cloud DVR service, including the cache-and-carry feature that allows users to download select shows from a home DVR to their mobile devices. (See TW Cable Buys Insight for $3B and Comcast Cloud DVR Storms Down East Coast.)

Even though Comcast and Time Warner have not yet received approval for their merger proposal, the two companies, along with Charter, have developed an intricate plan for reshaping the US cable landscape in the wake of the deal. Comcast plans to divest 3.9 million customers and reorganize its system footprint in a combination spinoff and exchange of subscribers with Charter.

As part of the complex agreement between Comcast and Charter:

  • Comcast would transfer to Charter approximately 1.4 million existing subscribers in the Time Warner Cable footprint.
  • Comcast and Charter would exchange approximately 1.6 million subscribers each in an effort to improve geographic efficiencies.
  • Comcast would spin off an additional 2.5 million subscribers into SpinCo, which would be approximately 67% owned by Comcast/Time Warner Cable shareholders, and approximately 33% owned by the new, larger Charter entity. Comcast would have no role in managing the new spinoff company.

Comcast and Charter say that SpinCo will have a board of directors that includes three members appointed by Charter, including current president and CEO Tom Rutledge, who will act as non-executive chairman. Comcast will appoint three more members of the board and select the final three from a Charter-provided list.

Willner's long background in the cable industry makes him a reasonably safe bet to lead SpinCo. In addition to running Insight Communications, he was also COO of Vision Cable Communications and served twice as chairman of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) . As the head of Insight, he oversaw many of the Midwestern cable systems that SpinCo would inherit.

Willner has expressed concern in the past that the cable industry isn't keeping up with market changes and the rise of over-the-top video services. "The fear I have always had is that we get a little complacent about being the incumbent," he said last year at The Independent Show. "Incumbency can be your worst enemy and best friend at the same time." (See Cable Model Needs Urgent Fix.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/15/2014 | 3:26:04 PM
Willner
I quite like Willner as a person, he used to visit our forums frequently and ran his blog quite candidly until 2012 or so. I wonder though how short lived his tenure will be at this new SpinCo however, as I think Charter gets a 33% stake and will inevitably just acquire SpinCo in a year or two after the press and public forgets the purported regulatory benefits of minimizing consolidation.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/15/2014 | 2:11:25 PM
Done deal
Comcast is certainly acting like the merger is a done deal, even though it has to go through approval. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/22/2015
Google Ready to Release Thousands of Loons
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 4/20/2015
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment