If you were worried about the consolidation of ISPs, telcos, and media companies, this should make you uncomfortable: Charter Communications has bid a massive $61.3 billion for Time Warner Cable.
According to Bloomberg, this would be the third-largest deal since 2009. The total buyout would consist of $83 in cash for each Time Warner Cable share, and $49.50 in Charter stock for a total of around $132.50. In regular trading today, Time Warner Cable closed at $132.40, and is up over the bid price in after-hours trading, indicating that investors expect a higher total deal value by the time anything is completed.
According to a letter sent to Time Warner Cable management by Charter, and published by the latter company, it approached its now potential purchase several times in 2013, only to be rebuffed until December. Time Warner Cable then wanted more money than what Charter offered.
Charter wasn’t pleased with the expectation of a higher per-share premium, given that Time Warner Cable’s stock had risen on hopes of a deal; the sweetener was already in place, in its view. Or, as Charter phrases it:
Instead, you came back with a verbal offer at an unrealistic price expectation which ignores a full 39% premium already reflected in Time Warner Cable’s stock (as of last Friday), widespread shareholder endorsement of a deal, and Time Warner Cable shareholders’ approximately 45% ownership in the upside of the proposed transaction.
Both companies offer cable, Internet, and some telephony services. Time Warner Cable also operates some television properties. The combination of the two companies would mean greater constriction of the pool of companies that deliver and create content through a number of mediums.
In the age of net neutrality, and lawsuits pending that could see its reversal, the Charter-Time Warner Cable deal should make the back of your neck prickly.
For now, it appears that Time Warner Cable investors will at least try to get a higher price for their shares. If there can be parity between what Charter is willing to pay and what Time Warner Cable will demand is an open question. Bloomberg also notes that Comcast could be a suitor. A bidding war at these price points would be expensive indeed.