Charter agrees to buy Time Warner Cable

The deal to create an Internet and cable television giant would be for $55.33 billion.

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Charter Communications has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $55.33 billion, creating a cable television and Internet giant.

Associated Press sources believe this deal will be approved by regulators.

John Malone’s Liberty Broadcast Corp., which owns more than a quarter of Charter’s stock, is backing the acquisition, which puts Charter in the same league as Comcast. Liberty Broadband is expected to own about 20 percent of the new Charter, which will also include Bright House Networks, a smaller cable provider Charter said Tuesday it is buying for $10.4 billion. Charter, combined with Time Warner Cable and Bright House, will have nearly 24 million customers, compared with Comcast’s 27.2 million. It also lags AT&T, whose pending deal with DirecTV would give it 26.4 million TV customers and 16.1 million fixed Internet customers as well as tens of millions of wireless customers.

Whether government regulators will approve the Charter deal after quashing Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable remains to be seen. The Comcast deal would have given it more than half of the country’s high-speed Internet subscribers, which the government feared would give it the power to undermine online video competitors. Charter will have less than 30 percent of those fast-broadband customers, the company said Tuesday.

Bloomberg first reported the deal Monday.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler called Time Warner Cable’s Marcus and Charter CEO Tom Rutledge recently to dispel notions that industry mergers won’t be approved by regulators, a person with knowledge of the calls has said. Wheeler told the CEOs that any transaction would be judged on merit, and there was no flat ban on cable combinations, the person said.

Investors have been anticipating more deals. Cablevision Systems Corp., the No. 5 in the industry, rose 17 percent on May 20, the day Altice agreed to buy a controlling stake in Suddenlink Communications.

Charter serves several communities in Oregon, including areas in the Columbia Gorge (The Dalles), the Coast (Astoria and Cannon Beach), Southern Oregon (Medford, Ashland), among others.


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