updated 01:20 pm EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Bid possible due to decline in Comcast stock price since merger announcement
Just a few short days after Comcast's hearing on Capital Hill, Charter Communications is said to be evaluating the notion of starting a bidding war for Time Warner Cable against Comcast. Potentially at stake are the subscribers that Comcast has promised to divest should the merger take place -- worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Charter's prospects for a competitive offer are more financially sound, given the drop in stock price Comcast has seen since the news of the buyout spread. Wunderlich Securities analysts Matthew Harrigan said that the situation is "a real game theory situation that's tough to address. Comcast probably doesn't want to go higher on the price for Time Warner Cable. You have to be careful about cable valuations in this environment. But that affects Charter too. So I think Charter's in a bit of a box."
Comcast is expecting $18 billion for its divested customers, sources familiar with the matter claim. Comcast could potentially spin off the shed users into a new company, leaving other cable companies with no customers to pick up from the merger -- one of the many concerns opponents like Senator Al Franken has expressed over the whole idea of Time Warner and Comcast merging.
Comcast's stock price has fallen nearly seven percent since the deal, reducing the value of the deal to just over $39 billion, down from $45 billion. Investors are shying away from the stock over concerns of regulatory involvement, or an outright block. Investment firm MoffetNathanson's Craig Moffet said of the investor environment surrounding Comcast that "the market reaction reflects three concerns: how easy it will be to fix Time Warner Cable, how easy it will be to achieve the stated synergies, and what will be the costs of regulatory conditions on the deal." Moffet believes that Comcast won't raise its bid.
If completed, the new company will be led by Comcast CEO and president Neil Smit, and though it will bring on 11 million managed TWC subscribers to Comcast's existing collection, it is prepared to divest systems serving approximately 2 million users, bringing the entire subscriber count to approximately 30 million accounts.
The combined company is expected to achieve cost savings of around $1.5 billion, with both services also set to combine each others products, such as the StartOver live program restart feature and the LookBack three-day archive function.