Charter Communications confirms bid to buy Time Warner Cable

Charter Communications has confirmed it plans to acquire of Time Warner Cable, a deal that if approved would create the second-biggest cable operator in the U.S.

Cable operators are under pressure from a new generation of companies such as Netflix that offer competing video services, and Charter is hoping scale will help it compete more effectively. It values the deal at US$78.7 billion including assumed debt.

Charter also plans to acquire Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company. If successful, the deals would make Charter, currently the fourth-biggest cable company in the U.S., second only to Comcast. The combined entity would serve 23.9 million customers in 41 states.

This is Charter’s second attempt to buy Time Warner Cable. After its first offer was rejected, competing cable operator Comcast in 2014 made its own bid. That deal, however, also fell apart in April after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission referred the proposed acquisition to a hearing in front of a judge. The move effectively killed that plan because of the time and effort it would have taken.

The U.S. Department of Justice had also reportedly been leaning toward blocking the merger on antitrust grounds, should it have received FCC clearance.

Charter is hoping to convince regulators that this deal makes more sense, and will result in faster broadband speeds, better video products including more high definition channels, more affordable phone service, and more competition for consumers and businesses, it said. But irrespective of how it’s pitched, it is far from a sure thing.

(Marc Ferranti in New York contributed to this report)

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