U.S. cable TV mogul John Malone’s Liberty Interactive Corp. announced a complex deal that would help eliminate its “tracking stock” structure, giving the company greater access to the equity market and flexibility to make acquisitions. The deal includes the purchase of Alaska-based telecom company General Communication Inc. for $1.12 billion, which will then be combined with Liberty Ventures, the holding entity for Liberty Interactive’s cable TV and other assets.
Charter Communications on Tuesday announced plans to buy Time Warner Cable for about $56 billion and acquire smaller cable provider Bright House Networks for about $10 billion. The Charter transaction gives FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable lobbyist-turned-regulator, a fresh chance to put his imprimatur on the rapidly evolving industry — and combat the impression that he’s become hostile to all industry consolidation.
The $56.7 billion deal is the latest in the sector as companies struggle to keep pace with the changing habits of how Americans watch and pay for television.
Cox Communications Inc., the third-largest U.S. cable provider, has held talks about combining with Charter Communications Inc., according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Cox President Pat Esser has discussed a deal with representatives from Liberty Media Corp., which owns a 27% stake in Charter, said one of the sources. The structure of a potential deal hasn’t been determined, including which company might be the acquirer, the other source said.
While chatter about possible deals has grown louder, Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker says many are “unlikely to occur in the near to medium term.”
Time Warner Cable would rather grow through acquisitions than be bought by billionaire John Malone, and has been eyeing Cablevision, its most coveted target, and No. 3 cable operator Cox Cable, according to three people familiar with Time Warner Cable’s thinking.
Liberty Media boss John Malone and sidekick Greg Maffei have grand plans to consolidate the cable business via a 27% stake in Charter Communications. Fed up with the balkanized cable industry’s lack of coordination and ineffective efforts to battle the likes of Netflix, Malone and Maffei plan to pitch cable bigs on a get-together plan.