Charter Prepares To Pounce On Time Warner Cable

You shouldn’t be surprised by multiple reports this afternoon that Charter Communications is beginning to craft a bid for Time Warner Cable now that Comcast has left it at the altar. “Obviously, we’d be interested,” Charter CEO Tom Rutledge told analysts in February when asked whether he’d step up if Comcast’s $45 billion deal collapsed. His largest shareholder, Liberty Media’s John Malone, was even more enthusiastic when the question was posed to him in November. “Hell, yes,” he said.

TWC is up 5.5% to about $156.95 in afternoon trading. Charter shares are barely moving today, up 0.5%. (Comcast also is up a mere 1%.)

Remember that Charter kicked off the battle for TWC in late 2013 with a complicated offer valued at $61.3 billion including debt.

RelatedTime Warner Cable Says Charter Doesn’t Understand Its Strategy

Macquarie Securities’ Amy Young captured the state of play for TWC this morning when she said it’s “Time for Plan B …We mean A.” She figures that Charter would have to offer as much as $160 a share in a mix of cash and stock. The combined companies could be worth $220 a share.

S&P Capital IQ’s Tuna Amobi says that although TWC “could rationally opt to remain independent” it has “several fundamental building blocks to succeed in a consolidated pay TV landscape.”

RelatedCharter CEO Calls Time Warner Cable A “Troubled” Company: Video

But a Charter deal with TWC doesn’t thrill debt analysts at Moody’s Investors Service. It downgraded the outlook for TWC’s bonds to “negative,” saying that Charter likely would offer “a highly leveraged deal using TWC’s otherwise strong balance sheet.” It adds that there’s a “very slim possibility” that another company such as Cox Communications will step up.

RelatedCharter Agrees To Pay $10.4B For Bright House Networks

When crafting its original TWC offer, Charter said that Goldman Sachs and Aryeh Bourkoff’s LionTree Advisors were its lead financial advisers — with help from Guggenheim Securities, BofA Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank Securities. Legal matters were handled by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kirkland & Ellis.

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