The likelihood that Comcast will participate in the takeover of Time Warner Cable seems to be increasing, with word leaking out that if Charter Communications were to buy TWC, Comcast would be interested in buying TWC’s New York City, North Carolina, and New England systems from Charter, all according to Bloomberg.
Charter is trying to pull of the deal with an initial offer ($132.50 a share) that TWC considers a low-ball bid. TWC wants $150 or better.
There had been some speculation that if Charter put TWC into play, other companies might come in and bid against it, with Comcast heading the list. But a straight out merger of Comcast and TWC would probably also trigger an anti-trust examination, just as Comcast’s acquisition of NBC/Universal did.
There has been speculation that Charter might bring Comcast into negotiations somehow prior to Bloomberg’s recent report. Doing so is in the interest of both.
Once Charter forced TWC into play, the risk – especially with a low-ball bid – was that other potential acquirers might make an offer, possibly sparking a bidding war. For Charter, allying with Comcast removes the most likely potential rival that would bid up the price on TWC. Furthermore, Comcast becomes a source for funding for the takeover.
Charter gets to grow, and at the same time so would Comcast, possibly without triggering a serious anti-trust examination.
Everybody would be happy.
Except investors looking for a higher bid.