Comcast will announce a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable in an all-stock deal worth more than $44 billion that will unite the biggest and second largest cable television operators in the country, according to people briefed on the matter. .The Big Get Bigger, and consumers get the shaft.
The surprise merger — expected to be announced on Thursday — is likely to bring to an end a protracted takeover battle that a smaller cable rival, Charter Communications, has been waging for Time Warner Cable, and will be the second major deal for Comcast in recent years to radically reshape the American media landscape.
Time Warner Cable shareholders will receive 2.875 shares of newly issued Comcast common stock for each of their shares. Based on Comcast’s closing price of $55.24 on Wednesday, that values each Time Warner Cable share at about $158.82 each.
The combination of the two is certain to attract antitrust scrutiny by regulators.
David Faber of CNBC earlier reported the deal.
Charter, backed by John C. Malone’s Liberty had been courting Time Warner Cable for months.
Last month, Charter had offered to acquire the company for $132.50 a share — roughly around the market price of Time Warner Cable at the time.
The board of Time Warner Cable unanimously rejected that proposal, calling it “grossly inadequate.”
A deal by Comcast would come four years after the cable giant agreed to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric in a transaction that valued NBC Universal at $30 billion.
Comcast is having one of those months. First, between Comcast and Verizon, they manage to squish Net Neutrality.
Advocates of a free and open Internet could see this coming, but today's ruling from a Washington appeals court striking down the FCC's rules protecting the open net was worse than the most dire forecasts. It was "even more emphatic and disastrous than anyone expected," in the words of one veteran advocate for network neutrality.And while consumers were worried about Comcast's ability to cast some vengeance after it successfully won it's argument, they weren't quite prepared for a Comcast that buys up Time Warner Cable, effectively bundling together then #1 and #2 providers in the country, providing service the vast majority of US broadband consumers.
The Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit thoroughly eviscerated the Federal Communications Commission's latest lame attempt to prevent Internet service providers from playing favorites among websites--awarding faster speeds to sites that pay a special fee, for example, or slowing or blocking sites and services that compete with favored affiliates.
Big cable operators like Comcast and telecommunications firms like Verizon, which brought the lawsuit on which the court ruled, will be free to pick winners and losers among websites and services. Their judgment will most likely be based on cold hard cash--Netflix wants to keep your Internet provider from slowing its data so its films look like hash? It will have to pay your provider the big bucks. But the governing factor need not be money. (Comcast remains committed to adhere to the net neutrality rules overturned today until January 2018, a condition placed on its 2011 merger with NBC Universal; after that, all bets are off.)
"AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason," telecommunications lawyer Marvin Ammori (he's the man quoted above) observed even before the ruling came down. "Whim. Envy. Ignorance. Competition. Vengeance. Whatever. Or, no reason at all."
As a Time Warner customer, let me say before they cut me off, and this may take me a bit...