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Comcast Reportedly Dropping $45B TWC Bid

Sarah Thomas
4/23/2015

Comcast is reportedly planning to abandon its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable amidst pressure from the Department of Justice and FCC for an administrative hearing.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that undisclosed sources say Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is bowing to regulator pressure and will walk away from the deal. (See What If the Comcast Merger Fails? and Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu.)

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the day that its sources suggest the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering issuing a hearing designated order that would leave the fate of the merger up to an administrate law judge, who would rule on if the combined company would benefit the public interest.


For more fixed broadband market coverage and insights, check out our dedicated broadband content channel here on Light Reading.


If the FCC hearing were to take place, it would likely take months to complete -- long past the cable companies' timelines for closing. With the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice also apparently opposing the deal, this would more than likely be a death sentence for the merger. (See DoJ May Sue to Block Comcast-TWC Merger.)

If this sounds familiar, it's because the FCC also requested this type of hearing for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 2011 acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. , ultimately causing AT&T to abandon its bid. (See AT&T Drops Bid to Acquire T-Mobile.)

It's under these circumstances that Comcast is considering walking away before it is forced to anyway. Bloomberg suggests Comcast may give official word as soon as Friday as it deliberates its next step today.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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DHagar
DHagar
5/4/2015 | 1:44:15 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
MikeP688, the problem is you are thinking!  No, seriously, those are good thoughts.

I don't believe that the train has left the station yet.  I believe that it peaked the market's interest for TWC and that it is still a strong option if a deal is put together in the near future, ie TWC/Charter, etc., unless TWC does decide to got it alone.

Now regarding Content, that is another matter completely.  I agree with you, but it still "sells"; apparently we like those shows that don't make you think!  I think there is and will continue to be a growing market for streaming and new content delivery for these entertainment "no brainers".
MikeP688
MikeP688
5/4/2015 | 12:18:12 AM
Re: Not totally Surprised
As I reflect upon this, I wonder about the question Bud Fox had for Gordon Getcko "...How much is enough?".    It seems to me the order of the day as the deals go on--Sunday saw a Wall Street Journal Newsflash I saw that Charter is starting the conversations with Time Warner Cable about getting together.   I have to wonder if TWC_ComCast Got a "thumbs down", what would make this work?    Has the train also left the station?   None of these moves solves the wider issue:  Content--For every madame secretary and NCIS, there are multitudes of garbage shows that seems to be ever so a waste of time--Isn't that the bigger challenge the distributors face? 
DHagar
DHagar
5/1/2015 | 12:54:50 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
Joe, I agree with you that the consumers are pushing the reform; I think you have the right focus.   Maybe it's time for another "Boston Tea Party" approach?
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/30/2015 | 11:43:19 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
For my own part, I think of the cable companies more as imperialists but it's the consumers (some, anyway) that are actually engaging in the "warfare"/rebelling.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/30/2015 | 11:42:02 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
I don't think it's so much a "frowning" upon regulation (although, no doubt, regulation causes headaches and increases costs) as it is an understanding that it's something that they have to live with.  Here, it appears that Comcast conducted a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the effort it would take to appease regulators compared with the benefits of the deal itself, and made an informed decision.
DHagar
DHagar
4/30/2015 | 12:54:02 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
Joe, agreed, Comcast played a smart game.  They set their limits and terms that would ensure it was a good deal for them and then stuck to it.  They probably gained anyway as well in national exposure; which most of it was not negative, so it was an opportunity to build awareness.

Note:  I like your thoughts about cable wars and the possibility that it is with the consumers - great thinking!
MikeP688
MikeP688
4/30/2015 | 10:06:21 AM
Re: Not totally Surprised
What has been the key to success for the Roberts Family has been their strategic approach to their business-no question.    It is interesting that @Joe notes how Regulation can play a part--these very players are frowning upon regulation as they have initiated the legal action as they have against the FCC's net neutrality rules.    As companies make their moves, consumers have to be smart--that's the bottom line as I see it.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/29/2015 | 10:47:32 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
It's a balance.  Growth fosters competition and drives others to work harder to compete -- offering better and/or more cost-effective options or alternatives lest they be made irrelevant and driven out of the market.  Incentives exist in the free market alone even without antitrust regulation.

Of course, sometimes things can work out unfortunately for consumers, which is why the regulations/laws exist.  In non-clear-cut cases, though, it can be difficult to balance market freedoms with consumer protection in many cases.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/29/2015 | 10:41:26 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised
It' is indeed really smart of Comcast to have planned for these contingencies in advance and put a dollar amount on the value of completing the deal as well as dollar amounts on the time and resource cost of dealing with various contingencies, such as regulator hold-up.

It was a deal that Comcast would have liked to do given the right circumstances, but the higher-ups readily accepted that it wasn't a damn-the-consequences, must-do deal.  Many executives lose sight of this and become too attached to deals that become jeopardized.  Good for Comcast for being unhesitant about pulling out.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/29/2015 | 10:39:16 PM
Re: Not totally Surprised...
Interesting.  Implying that cable = war.

But who are the warring parties, really?  Competing cable companies?  Or is it cable companies versus consumers...?
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