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Comcast to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 bn

MUMBAI: Just a month after Charter and Time Warner’s clash over the acquisition bid, Comcast has entered the pavilion by acquiring Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal, combining the nation’s two largest cable operators.

International reports suggest that the friendly takeover comes as a surprise after months of public pursuit of Time Warner Cable by smaller rival Charter Communications Inc, and immediately raised questions as to whether it would pass regulatory scrutiny.

Comcast will reportedly pay $158.82 per share, which is roughly what Time Warner Cable had demanded from Charter.

The proposed combination, which would give roughly 23 per cent of the merged company to Time Warner Cable shareholders, is subject to regulatory approval and the two companies expect to close the deal by the end of the year.

The deal will face intense scrutiny from antitrust regulators, who will have to go through the issues of competitive pressures and the effects on pricing stemming from merging two cable giants. Should the deal be completed, Time Warner Cable shareholders will own about a quarter of the combined company.

The acquisition would benefit Comcast who would fill in its New Jersey and Connecticut portfolio with Time Warner Cable’s New York City customers, and add major markets like Los Angeles and Dallas.

The combined company would divest three million subscribers, about a quarter of Time Warner’s 12 million customers. Together with Comcast’s 22 million video subscribers, the roughly 30 million total would represent just under 30 per cent of the US pay television video market.

Earlier in 2013, Comcast had acquired NBC Universal for $17 billion and this makes it the second deal by the company to radically reshape the media landscape in the United States.

For Comcast, the deal extends its leadership in the cable industry. But Charter, however, is left in the lurch. Charter nursed big ambitions to compete with Comcast by acquiring Time Warner Cable.

Beginning last year, Charter made overtures to Time Warner Cable, privately offering a succession of higher prices, all of which were rejected. Last month, Charter went public with an offer of $132.50 per share for Time Warner Cable, which Warner dismissed as inadequate. The company stated that it would consider a bid of $160 per share, which Comcast has now nearly matched.