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Comcast Time Warner Cable merger may yet be zapped by competition concerns

4 years ago228 views

The two largest US cable TV operators are set to merge.

Comcast is to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion (33 billion euros) in an all-stock deal.

The friendly takeover comes as a surprise after months of a public pursuit of Time Warner Cable by its smaller rival Charter Communications.

The big questions is whether such a deal would be approved by competition regulators. It is subject to approval from the US Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

To stand a chance Time Warner would have to shed three million subscribers, about a quarter its 12 million customers.

Even then a combined company would have around 30 million total, which is just under 30 percent of the US pay TV video market.

CEO confident

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said he is confident it would get the go ahead.

Interviewed by CNBC television Roberts called the deal “pro-competitive” and “pro-consumer”.

The two companies do have the advantage of being concentrated in different cities.

Comcast would fill in its New Jersey and Connecticut portfolio with Time Warner Cable’s New York City customers, for instance, and add major markets such as Los Angeles and Dallas.

Bicoastal benefits

Comcast is interested in advertising synergies it would gain by owning the New York City market as well as the opportunity to expand its business services unit, its fastest growing cable division, to a larger footprint.

“For Comcast, adding New York and Los Angeles has advertising potential, along with Time Warner Cable’s sports assets, which provides an acquisition target that is simply too compelling to ignore, especially with an (under-leveraged) balance sheet,” said BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield.

Time Warner Cable owns two regional sports networks in Los Angeles, where it has spent billions on local TV rights for LA Lakers basketball and LA Dodgers baseball.

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