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Legal Backing for Charter Communications' Impending Deals

Charter Communications, Inc.’s CHTR planned buyouts of Time Warner Cable Inc. TWC and Bright House Networks crossed a major hurdle when a Californian administrative judge urged regulators to sanction the deals.

Notably, California is the only state left where the deal has not been approved yet and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is likely to vote on the matter on May 12.

Judge Karl Bemesderfer stated that the merger is in the public interest, however, he has imposed stringent conditions to ensure the same.

Notably, in May 2015, Charter Communications had reached an agreement to buy Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion, including debt., The value of the stock portion of the deal has been pegged at $55.76 billion after taking Time Warner Cable's outstanding diluted share count, as of Mar 31, 2015, into account.

Additionally, Charter Communications had reached an acquisition deal with Bright House Networks – the sixth largest U.S. cable operator – valued at $10.4 billion.

However, the deals await the approval from the U.S. regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice.

FCC Likely to Oblige

Notably, the FCC had earlier thwarted Comcast Corp.’s CMCSA attempt to take over Time Warner Cable as the combined entity would have controlled 35% of the U.S. pay-TV market (exceeding the FCC limit of 30% share) and almost 60% of the high-speed broadband (Internet) market.

Though the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable deal is being closely scrutinized by the FCC, the merged entity of Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, once formed, will jointly serve 23.9 million customers across 41 states. The figure is duly below the market share limit set by the FCC.

Meanwhile, in Jul 2015, U.S. telecom behemoth AT&T, Inc. T scaled up to the highest position in the U.S. pay-TV market with the acquisition of DIRECTV.

Bottom Line

If the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable deal sees the light of day, it will be a win-win situation for both the companies. Time Warner Cable, together with most of the cable TV operators in the U.S., is getting gradually marginalized by the fiber-based video offerings of telecom giants and the online video streaming services of low-cost operators.

On the other hand, the alliance will benefit Charter Communications in terms of geographic expansion and operating cost synergies, which in turn, will boost its bottom line and free cash flow. Moreover, Charter Communications’ service would be accessible to roughly 6.4 million homes in California, post the merger.

Also, the much-anticipated green signal from the FCC would duly make Charter Communications the second-largest cable MSO (multi-service operator) in the U.S. after Comcast.

Charter Communications currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) while Time Warner Cable has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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AT&T INC (T): Free Stock Analysis Report
COMCAST CORP A (CMCSA): Free Stock Analysis Report
TIME WARNER CAB (TWC): Free Stock Analysis Report
CHARTER COMM-A (CHTR): Free Stock Analysis Report
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