"People familiar with the company's thinking" (aka pretty much anybody) tell the Wall Street Journal
that Charter is unlikely to make a counter offer to acquire Time Warner Cable. The company is unlikely to go above their existing $132 per share offer to match or exceed Comcast's $159 per share offer, a price point Charter had hoped to drive down by apparently insulting Time Warner Cable services
. Instead, notes the Journal, Charter and John Malone will focus their efforts on other possible acquisition targets like Cox Communications, as well as take a chunk of the subscribers and networks Comcast will attempt to divest to make the deal more palatable to regulators.
A number of companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Google, and Microsoft are expected to announce a new coalition named WiFiForward
that will push for expansion of access to unlicensed spectrum for wireless networks. The new coalition was supposed to be announced yesterday, though the announcement appears to have been delayed out of fears it wouldn't have been noticed under the din of the Comcast Time Warner Cable announcement.
Notably absent from the coalition is AT&T and Verizon, who use Wi-Fi for offloading, but would obviously prefer you pay them for accessing cellular networks:
...after spending billions of dollars to upgrade to faster, so-called LTE technology, AT&T and its peers are now looking to bring that traffic back. "We are now at a place where the pricing is right, LTE is performing very, very well, and you want to drive utilization of these networks," AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said at an analysts conference in December.
The cable industry originally had cellular ambitions but after acquiring spectrum (now owned by Verizon) realized that competing with AT&T and Verizon on their turf would be very cash intensive. They've instead worked together to offer a broader array of publicly available hotspots in higher traffic areas, which are free if you subscribe to traditional cable services.
Charter shows no sign in backing off their desired acquisition of Time Warner Cable, this week making more aggressive moves as part of a hostile takeover bid. Charter originally made an offer of $37.3 billion, or around $132.50 per share. story continues..
Netflix today released their latest ISP streaming rankings
, which, as the name suggests, track the average performance of all Netflix streams on each ISPs network. The latest report shows that Verizon (both FiOS and DSL), AT&T U-Verse and Mediacom all slipped in the rankings, while Time Warner Cable, Bright House, Windstream, Centurylink and Clearwire all saw performance improvements.
Anonymous sources tell Reuters
that Charter will likely present a new, higher bid to acquire Time Warner Cable sometime within the next two weeks. Charter originally made an offer of $37.3 billion, or around $132.50 per share.
Last November we noted story continues..
that Time Warner Cable, historically a bit sluggish when it comes to next-gen broadband upgrades, was considering a brand refresh named "Maxx" that would include significant speed and TV improvements. A blog post
and press release
by the company today shed a little more details on these improvements, which the company say will first be coming to the New York City and Los Angeles markets -- "transforming their service as they know it."
According to Time Warner Cable's Andrew Russell, the brand refresh may not actually be called "Maxx" when it launches; this appears to just be their current tag for the initiative.
Bloomberg story continues..
is reporting that Charter and Comcast are very close to a preliminary deal wherein Charter would buy Time Warner Cable, then Comcast would buy strategically and geographically sensible markets in New York City, North Carolina and New England. The report notes that this would not be a joint bid, and Comcast wouldn't be involved until after Charter's offer is accepted.
With Time Warner Cable rebuffing Charter's acquisition advances
and insulting the company apparently not working
, reports suggest that Charter has again turned to Comcast in the hopes of a joint acquisition bid. Reuters
notes that Charter approached Comcast this week about acquiring then dividing up Time Warner Cable's networks and subscribers, with Comcast providing additional financial backing to help meet Time Warner Cable's preferred price point (above $160 per share).
Netflix has released their latest rankings
for average ISP streaming speeds, with Google Fiber, Cablevision, Cox, Suddenlink and Charter rounding out the top five. In a blog post
Netflix notes that Bright House and Comcast tumbled five spots in the rankings while refusing to specifically state why (though Reddit users have their theories
in regards to Comcast).
With Time Warner Cable executives so far refusing the company's acquisition advances
, Charter Communications has decided to take the battle to investors and the media. In a rare display of borderline hostility for two companies that don't directly compete, Charter COO John Bickham took numerous pot shots at Time Warner Cable
this week, criticizing the company's services while insisting Time Warner Cable embraces a "failed operating strategy" and has fallen into nickel and diming consumers:
Bickham said that TWC has exhibited a "failed operating strategy revealed by fact that they are losing customers at an alarming rate," and said the trend isn't over just the past year, but rather the past decade...."It appears that Time Warner didn't want to spend the money to go all-digital," he said -- and blasted the company for offering slow Internet packages at deeply discounted prices.
After months of speculation about a possible deal, Charter Communications has made their first official offer to acquire Time Warner Cable. According to Reuters
, Charter is offering about $37.3 billion, or around $132.50 per share, in a deal that when debt is included is valued at around $62.35 billion. The offer didn't sit very well with Time Warner Cable, who in a public letter
stated that Charter's offer was "grossly inadequate" and a "non starter," the company making it clear they'e more interested in a deal somewhere above $160 per share. "We gave Charter our bottom line, but rather than pursuing this path, Charter has chosen to go public with its third low-ball offer trying to pressure TWC's Board into selling the Company at a grossly inadequate price," said Time Warner Cable in a statement.
As new Charter management attempted to right the ship last year, the company started offering just two usage tiers: 30 Mbps or 100 Mbps
. Now according to user chatter in our forums
, Charter appears to be bumping their 30 Mbps tier to 60 Mbps (technically from 30 Mbps down, 4 Mbps up to 60 Mbps down, 4 Mbps up). Users say the deployment doesn't appear to be available in all Charter areas yet, and users in upgraded areas may have to reboot their modem before they're able to see the faster speeds. Charter has yet to officially announce the changes, though I've reached out for confirmation and more details.
According to Bloomberg
, Charter is planning to extend an acquisition offer letter to Time Warner Cable as early as this week, with the cable operator planning to offer around $135 per share. Excluding debt, that would value Time Warner Cable at around $38 billion. Reports had previously suggested
that with Time Warner Cable wanted between $150 and $160 per share, though Charter is expected to argue that Time Warner Cable's recent subscriber losses
(many due to their retransmission feud with CBS) Time Warner Cable shouldn't be too picky. Comcast is likely watching Time Warner Cable's response before offering up a possible proposal of their own.
Charter chairman John Malone has been throwing chum in the shark-filled investment waters the last few months, leading to a frenzy of gossip over cable industry consolidation that has been very profitable for investors. But for his part, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge this week stated
that while all the rumors make for a "rather frothy experience," Charter "doesn't need to do any acquisitions to be a successful company." "Time Warner [Cable] is relatively unique because it's not controlled by a family; and it's large; and they have a management transition going on," Liberty CEO Greg Maffei also stated, adding that "those factors have led to speculation about transactions."
Rumors of cable consolidation have been heated for much of the year, thanks largely to Charter board member John Malone and investors looking to cash in on the gossip-inflated stock gains. Said rumors exploded last week with a report claiming that both Comcast and Charter had contemplated a joint bid for Time Warner Cable
Rumors of Charter's never-ending interest in acquiring Time Warner Cable continue, with the Wall Street Journal
noting that Charter is polishing off financing agreements with banks in order to make a deal work. The Journal notes Charter has talked with Bank of America, Barclays and Deutsche Bank about a multi-billion dollar debt package that would underpin an offer for Time Warner Cable:
Charter has held talks with Bank of America Corp., Barclays PLC and Deutsche Bank AG about a multi-billion dollar debt package that would underpin an offer for Time Warner Cable, which has a market capitalization of nearly $35 billion, the people said. Another possible source of cash for a bid, according to people familiar with the matter: sovereign wealth funds and wealthy individuals. Arranging equity commitments from such parties could allow Charter to increase the cash component of the deal without taking on too much debt.
Earlier reports had suggested Charter wanted to accomplish a deal before the end of the year
, though reports have also suggested that Charter's hope appears to be that Time Warner Cable will be warmer to a deal once current CEO Glenn Britt leaves at the end of the year. Regardless, the biggest winners here continue to be Charter and Time Warner Cable investors who profit off of the stock surge every time another Charter-leaked rumor hits the press.
Rumors (most of them started by Charter Chairman John Malone and investors feeding off of the gossip) have been floating around for months that Charter is interested in acquiring Time Warner Cable. Time Warner Cable however remains somewhat luke warm to the idea. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Barcelona this week
, Time Warner Cable CFO Artie Minson stated that while Time Warner Cable is "always open to different conversations," about acquisitions, he said the company would be "very deliberate" about any such deals. "We want to make sure in any hypothetical transaction that it makes sense for our shareholders."
Less than a week after Charter CEO Tom Rutledge publicly admitted that their current TV service offerings are rather crappy
, Charter has announced plans for a brand refresh for the company's broadband and TV services. Like AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Comcast Xfinity, and Cablevision Optimum, Charter has announced they'll be re-branding the company's broadband and digital video services under the name "Spectrum" in the hopes of changing public perceptions.
With all the quarterly earnings reports in, telecom analyst firm MoffettNathanson notes that the Pay TV industry lost about 113,000 subscribers on the quarter
. Cable operators lost 687,000 subscribers in Q3, and while telcoTV and satellite providers added 574,000 subscribers, it couldn't prevent the industry from seeing a net loss -- attributed to the slow and small but steady growth of cord cutters.
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