Technology

Feb 13, 2014 6:24 PM by David Randall

Massive merger

Comcast has agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable in all-stock transaction worth roughly $159 a share, the companies announced Thursday.

The new company created by the approximately $45 billion purchase would be by far the largest cable provider in the nation with over 33 million subscribers. The deal is likely to face a tough antitrust review from regulators. It would need to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and by the Justice Department.

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told CNBC he's confident the deal would be approved, adding the companies wouldn't have agreed to the deal otherwise. Roberts called the deal "pro-competitive" and "pro-consumer."

"We're going to be able to bring better products, faster internet, more channels, on demand, TV everywhere, and a national local platform that's really special," Roberts said.

Roberts said the deal will give the cable and media company a wider distribution of its products, adding that all of Comcast's competitors are national players and this deal puts it on a level playing field.

Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Robert Marcus also said he felt confident the deal would clear regulatory hurdles.Comcast said it is prepared to sell as many as 3 million customers to reduce concerns about the combined company being too large.

There's no regional overlap between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Roberts said. "We don't compete. We're not in the same markets. We're not in any of the same zip codes with Time Warner," he said.

The agreement comes more than eight months after CNBC broke the story that Charter Communictions and Liberty Media had made their first foray to try and negotiate a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable and follows months of conversations between Time Warner Cable and Comcast about the prospect of a Comcast acquisition of the company.

Charter's offer of roughly $133 a share in cash and stock was rejected by Time Warner Cable as it held out for a price of $160, which it said reflects where an asset of its size and scope should trade in a deal.

While there are no caps on the ownership of cable subscribers, Comcast had been thought to be lukewarm to a deal to buy all of Time Warner Cable due to its concern about being subjected to an onerous consent decree from the FCC similar to the one it signed upon acquiring NBC Universal.

(Disclosure: Comcast is the ower of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and NBC News)

 

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