Charter Communications on Tuesday said it will acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at more than $55 billion. Charter will also buy Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company, for $10.4 billion. The two deals combined will make Charter into the second-largest cable and broadband provider in the U.S., with about 24 million subscribers, behind only Comcast, which has about 27 million subscribers.
Time Warner shareholders: An extra $10 billion over the $45.2 billion Comcast had offered sure makes for a nice payday after the earlier deal got scrapped. “Time Warner Cable has succeeded in extracting a fantastic price for its shareholders, far exceeding our expectations,” Morningstar strategist Michael Hodel wrote Tuesday. Hedge fund managers John Paulson of Paulson & Co. and Chris Hohn of Children’s Investment Fund Management reportedly both had sizable holdings in Time Warner Cable.
Time Warner Cable subscribers: The company’s service is reviled by customers. Charter’s isn’t exactly beloved, either, and subscribers may not see any immediate changes, but Charter promises that the deal will translate into faster broadband for subscribers and more free public Wi-Fi. Whether it actually does or not, the deal seems to spell the end of the Time Warner Cable name. Subscribers won’t miss it.
John Malone: The Liberty Media billionaire finally gets the megadeal he’s been looking for to make Charter Communications into a major industry power. If the deals goes through, the company would become the second-largest cable and broadband provider in the country, with some 24 million total subscribers.
Comcast: At least CEO Brian Rogers was graceful about the prospect of a larger competitor. "This deal makes all the sense in the world,” he said in a statement. “I would like to congratulate all the parties."
Television content providers: One rationale for the deal is that the scale of the combined company will afford it more leverage in its negotiations with programmers.
Cable customers and online video watchers? The proposed deal still concerns consumer advocates like those at public interest group Free Press. “The issue of the cable industry's power to harm online video competition, which is what ultimately sank Comcast’s consolidation plans, are very much at play in this deal,” said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press. “Ultimately, this merger is yet another example of the poor incentives Wall Street’s quarterly-result mentality creates. Charter would rather take on an enormous amount of debt to pay a premium for Time Warner Cable than build fiber infrastructure, improve service for its existing customers or bring competition into new communities.”
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”