In a rapid vote conducted this morning, Time Warner Cable shareholders have given their blessing to the company's plan to sell out to Comcast.
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) shareholders also approved an advisory resolution that recommends a significant compensation package for top Time Warner Cable executives if the deal goes through. Today's procedure followed a similar vote by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) shareholders yesterday in which more than 99% of the stockholders approved the TWC takeover.
While today's endorsement by investors was widely expected, Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Rob Marcus still took the move as an opportunity to proclaim that "we have satisfied an important step in the merger approval process."
Still ahead for the two companies, however, is the challenge of securing federal regulatory approval. Most analysts still expect the deal to close successfully in early 2015, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has at least temporarily paused its 180-day merger review clock in order to consider new documentation filed by Comcast. Susan P. Crawford, a Bloomberg columnist and former policy advisor to President Barack Obama, has pointed out that the FCC made a similar move when reviewing the proposed AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)-T-Mobile US Inc. merger proposal three years ago, and that the deal was ultimately blocked.
Even as the Comcast/TWC review continues, both supporters and opponents of the deal have been vocal in filing their opinions with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC. Supporters say a merger would give the new Comcast entity an opportunity to use its scale to bring more innovative services to more subscribers. Opponents argue that a deal would decrease competition in both the video and broadband markets, as well as stifle innovation from online competitors. (See CU Urges DoJ to Halt Comcast-TWC Deal.)
In the meantime, there was some pushback from individual investors in today's Time Warner Cable shareholder meeting on the matter of executive compensation. Several TWC execs are expected to receive a total of close to $135 million in "golden parachute" payouts if the merger with Comcast is completed. Although the majority of investors approved that plan, one shareholder took to the microphone to express her objections. On why CEO Rob Marcus shouldn't be entitled to a golden parachute of nearly $80 million, the shareholder declared: "I think you've already been paid too much, but that's my opinion." (See TWC Execs' Prize? A Cool $135M.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading